Originally published on December 7, 2014, at NationofChange.org
A grand jury in South Carolina charged a former police chief with murder this week for gunning down an unarmed black man in a town hall parking lot. The decision was announced a day after another grand jury declined to indict the NYPD officer responsible for killing Eric Garner with a chokehold. The former police chief has become the third officer in South Carolina indicted for shooting unarmed black men in recent months.
On May 2, 2011, Bernard Bailey arrived at Eutawville’s Town Hall to contest a ticket issued to his daughter for a broken taillight. Six weeks earlier, Police Chief Richard Combs had pulled over Bailey’s daughter who called her father to the scene. After arguing with Bailey and issuing the ticket to his daughter, Chief Combs obtained a warrant against Bailey for obstruction of justice.
When Bailey appeared at the Town Hall weeks later, Combs began arguing with Bailey again and attempted to arrest him. Without threatening or attacking the police chief, Bailey exited the building towards his truck. As Combs followed him into the parking lot, Bailey entered his vehicle and turned the ignition.
Before Bailey could close his door, Combs reached inside the truck attempting to shut off the engine. According to Combs, he became entangled in the truck’s steering wheel while trying to turn off the ignition. As the truck backed out of the parking space, Combs fell to the ground and pulled out his gun shooting Bailey twice in the chest and once in the shoulder.