Rock Hill, SC – The York County Sheriff’s Office (YCSO) has released multiple dashcam videos capturing the moment when a violent suspect behind the wheel of a stolen car was fatally shot by a deputy after intentionally crashing into the deputy’s patrol vehicle last week (video below).
The fatal officer-involved-shooting occurred at the end of a chaotic, 24-minute high-speed pursuit that took place throughout the community of Rock Hill on Sept. 13, the YCSO said in the video release.
“We will be asked, ‘You shot an unarmed man,’” York County Sheriff Kevin Tolson said during a press conference the following day, according to The Herald. “We did. But he was armed with a vehicle.”
“When you take a 2,500-pound bullet and you ram a deputy who is standing at the apex of a door, this is the end result. Period,” Sheriff Tolson added, according to WAGA.
Sheriff Tolson said the chase began in the parking lot of a Baxter Village YMCA at approximately 4:35 p.m. after deputies spotted a Hyundai SUV that had been reported as stolen out of Charlotte several hours earlier, The Herald reported.
The suspect behind the wheel of the stolen vehicle was later identified as 25-year-old Tyshawn Malik Benjamin, WAGA reported.
Benjamin refused to pull over and sped off down Interstate 77, triggering a pursuit, according to The Herald.
The suspect rocketed through rush-hour traffic at speeds topping 90 miles per hour before he abruptly exited the interstate and drove recklessly through residential and downtown sections of Rock Hill, Sheriff Tolson told reporters.
The suspect drove over grassy areas, barreled through red lights, and weaved in and out of heavy traffic during the chase, dashcam footage showed.
He stopped briefly in the parking lot of a Chicken King restaurant near Cherry Road and West Main Street and was ordered at gunpoint to exit the vehicle, but he refused.
Benjamin sped off again before ultimately winding up the in the parking lot of a CVS store with YCSO Corporal Lucas Frame right behind him, The Herald reported.
YCSO Senior Deputy Korey Wedow pulled in front of the suspect vehicle in an attempt to block it in, at which point Benjamin rammed the stolen car into the deputy’s open driver’s side door, dashcam footage showed.
Deputy Wedow, who was partially out of his patrol SUV at the time of the attack, fired three shots at Benjamin, hitting him at least once.
The deputies immediately radioed for emergency medical assistance, the video showed.
Benjamin was rushed to a local hospital, where he was pronounced dead, WAGA reported.
No deputies were injured during the incident.
The South Carolina Law Enforcement Division (SLED) is handling the ongoing investigation into the fatal officer-involved shooting.
Deputy Wedow, a four-year veteran of the YCSO, will remain on paid leave until he is ready to return to work, at which point he will be placed on administrative duty, Sheriff Tolson said.
The YCSO is conducting an internal investigation into the deputies’ actions to make sure the pursuit was justified under the agency’s policy, The Herald reported.
Sheriff Tolson described Benjamin as “a dangerous individual” who chose not to take advantage of multiple opportunities to surrender.
He noted that he believes Deputy Wedow took appropriate actions to defend himself and that his use of deadly force was justified, The Herald reported.
“Clearly, Deputy Wedow was defending his life,” Sheriff Tolson told reporters on Wednesday.
He noted that Deputy Wedow “did not make Mr. Benjamin’s choices,” WAGA reported.
“Mr. Benjamin made those choices,” the sheriff said. “And at the end of the day, I’d rather see a deputy go home in the line of duty than the bad guy.”
According to investigators, Benjamin had previously been arrested on charges of resisting a peace officer, trespassing, larceny, probation violation, drug offenses, and possession of a stolen vehicle, The Herald reported.
Watch the incident unfold in the video below. Warning – Graphic Content: