WATCH: South Carolina Constable Fires 8 Times, Hitting Motorist After Car Lurches Backward

Christopher Bachochin, a licensed pharmacist who volunteers as a gun-carrying state constable, stood next to a car that lurched backward during a traffic stop last weekend in Florence.

He started shooting.

He and two city officers were not standing in the car’s path as it reversed and struck an empty police cruiser. But Bachochin fired repeatedly toward the driver’s door. Eight shots went off, wounding the man behind the wheel.

Those details emerged Tuesday as the Florence Police Department released video of the episode that Mayor Stephen Wukela dubbed “troubling.”

The shooting came amid years of nationwide scrutiny of law officers’ use of force against black suspects. The constable is white, and the motorist is black. It also raises fresh questions about the training of South Carolina law enforcement officers who are faced with deciding whether to target moving cars that might pose a danger to people. The two police officers with Bachochin had special training to make that decision; they did not shoot.

“I will tell you that the whole incident is troubling,” Wukela said, “and we have confidence that the State Law Enforcement Division will investigate this matter and treat it fully and fairly.”

A 2015 Post and Courier analysis that reviewed more than 200 police shootings found that one in four cases involved officers firing at moving vehicles, often when no one stood in the vehicles’ paths. Moved by the findings, state officials created a program offered by the S.C. Criminal Justice Academy to train officers on such situations.

The two Florence officers had gone through that training in the past six months. But constables such as Bachochin, though certified by the state after attending classes at technical schools, do not attend training at the academy.

The motorist, who was not named, was expected to survive his injuries.

SLED is gathering evidence to determine whether the shooting was justified.

State Rep. Terry Alexander, a Democrat whose district covers the neighborhood where the shooting happened, questioned the use of force.

“When someone is trying to get away and no one is in harm’s way, you don’t have authority to shoot,” he said. “That goes against all law enforcement training.”

Bachochin had worked as a Darlington police officer for five years until 2003. The reason for his departure from a full-time career in law enforcement was not clear in police academy records.

He has been licensed as a pharmacist since 2010 at a Sumter hospital, according to state filings.

He worked in his spare time as a constable for the past four years in Florence, where such volunteers are often used for crowd and traffic control, officials have said.

Bachochin was required to maintain certification requirements that are tracked by SLED. The Florence police force had to give updates to SLED every six months about its use of constables.

The post allowed Bachochin to carry a gun and make arrests. But about 11 p.m. Saturday, he was riding with Officer Edward Sieban to keep up his certification, city officials have said.

Two body-worn cameras and video from a police cruiser captured portions of what happened.

They stopped a white Cadillac that had crossed the center line near Waverly Avenue and Sunset Drive, an officer said during the stop. The sedan pulled into a driveway.

For a brief time, the officers and the driver discussed paperwork for the car, which had a temporary license plate. The motorist said it belonged to him.

Sieban asked the driver several times whether he had any weapons in the car. The driver became visibly agitated.

“No sir, why are you asking me if there’s weapons in the car,” the driver said.

“I’m worried about weapons. We’ve got a problem with weapons in this area,” Sieban said.

“Can’t you just go ahead and (unintelligible) my ticket,” the driver said.

At that point, Sieban told the driver he smelled an odor coming from the car.

“Is there any kind of drugs in the car?” Sieban said. “I can smell a little bit of weed.”

The driver said he had no drugs. But when Sieban asked him to get out, he refused.

“I need you to step out of the car,” the officer said.

By that point, the constable stood closest to the driver’s door with Officer Knicoby Burgess nearby. Sieban stood on the passenger side.

As the Cadillac’s reverse lights illuminated, Bachochin pulled out his gun. Bachochin leaned against the driver’s side with his left hand.

“Stop. Stop,” Sieban yelled.

But the car jerked backward, its front end swinging toward the constable, who backpedaled farther off to the side. The car hit the cruiser, jolting the camera inside.

Bachochin fired again. And again. And again, until the car stopped briefly, then sped forward across some grass.

The officers caught up with the car two minutes later. The door was open, the driver was gone and there was blood inside the vehicle.

The driver was later found and hospitalized.

Florence police and city officials have said little to explain why the constable opened fire. They had not made public any police reports.

But by Tuesday, state investigators had done enough interviews to warrant the videos’ release, the mayor said. He and the city’s police chief, Allen Heidler, gathered for a news conference but withheld comments about the footage.

“It speaks for itself,” the mayor said.

Source: https://www.postandcourier.com/news/video-after-car-lurches-backward-south-carolina-constable-fires-times/article_7f1637b8-31e1-11e8-b58c-67e277e0f6c5.html

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Filming Cops
Filming Cops 5620 posts

Filming Cops was started in 2010 as a conglomerative blogging service documenting police abuse. The aim isn’t to demonize the natural concept of security provision as such, but to highlight specific cases of State-monopolized police brutality that are otherwise ignored by traditional media outlets.

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