Settlements Issued To Families Of Those Killed By Officers
There have been several large settlement payouts in recent years involving South Carolina law enforcement officers. These settlements have been issued to relatives whose family members were shot and fatally injured while in moving vehicles. In most of the cases, the police officers involved were not charged. However, some were prosecuted.
Zachary Hammond’s family was issued a $2.15 million settlement after the 19-year-old was shot to death by Seneca police officer Lt. Mark Tiller. Hammond was driving out of a fast food restaurant parking lot back in the summer of 2015 after the vehicle’s passenger attempted to engage in a drug transaction with the undercover officer. A video captured the whole ordeal and investigators were able to determine that Lt. Tiller’s actions were inexperienced and inappropriate. Tiller had taken Hammond’s tag number and the cellphone number of his passenger who arranged the drug transaction with the officer via text messages.
Rebecca Oliver’s family also received a lofty payout. They were awarded $700,000 after she was killed by a Duncan, South Carolina, police officer in March 2014. Officer Terry Lane had left his car unlocked and Oliver attempted to get into the vehicle and drive off. Lane claimed he was trying to run Oliver off the road, when she drove off. However, Oliver’s lawyer said he was just humiliated over his misjudgment to leave the vehicle unlocked in the first place. He haphazardly fired multiple gunshots at Oliver, struck her and waited almost half a minute while Oliver begged not to be shot again. He did anyway, and Oliver died at the scene.
Another settlement was awarded to Lacey Lamb’s family after the 28-year-old was killed during a traffic stop in October 2012 while pregnant. When the vehicle was pulled over, Lamb was a passenger. She had attempted to jump across the front seat and gain control of the car after the driver suddenly jumped out. According to his testimony, officer Todd Knight thought she was taking the wheel to run him over and shot the woman to death. Drugs, a gun and ammunition were all found inside, and the driver eventually pleaded guilty to drug and weapons charges. Knight, on the other hand, was not prosecuted.
Warren Robinson’s family received $600,000 after he was shot to death while trying to drive away from Deputy Eddie Williams and Officer Horace Brunson. Williams had stopped Robinson upon receiving an anonymous tip there were drugs inside his truck. Moments later, the man peeled off and a high speed chase ensued. Brunson joined Williams and a video in the cruiser showed that one of the officers struck Robinson with a bullet, killing him. Neither were charged.
Bernard Bailey’s family received $400,000 from the town of Eutawville’s insurer after the man was killed by Police Chief Richard Combs back in May 2011. The two men had had a confrontation over a traffic ticket the Chief had issued Bailey’s daughter weeks before the incident, and investigators believe that Combs was trying to arrest Bailey on over-exaggerated charges of obstruction of justice out of spite. Bailey tried to get away in his truck and Combs fired. Combs later said he feared for his life, but was charged with murder. He was sentenced to one year of house arrest.