A Lancaster man pleaded guilty on Friday to involuntary manslaughter in the May 2012 death of Tristan Hunter, 20, outside a Rock Hill club.
Jacques Waiters, 24, was sentenced to up to three years in prison, but he will become parole-eligible after 25 percent of that time. He was also sentenced to three years of probation and ordered to pay more than $9,000 in restitution to the victim’s family.
Waiters can be finished with probation after one year if he pays the restitution in that time period, said his attorney, Twana Burris-Alcide.
Waiters was facing a murder charge, along with several weapons charges, all of which were dismissed or will be dismissed, officials said.
The charges stemmed from an incident outside Rosetta’s Live Music and Comedy Club off Celanese Road on May 26, 2012. According to news reports, there was a fight in the club between several women, and Hunter punched one of them. The security staff cleared the club, but the fighting continued outside.
A witness, Rosetta’s owner Fred Hart, said Hunter got in his car, hitting two people as he drove away. As he approached a third person, Hart said, the person shot him.
Burris-Alcide said Waiters could be seen on security footage, walking outside the club very calmly, and was not part of the original fight. He did, Burris-Alcide said, go to his car and get a gun with the intent of finding his sister in the crowd.
While holding the gun, Burris-Alcide said, Waiters was struck by Hunter’s vehicle so hard that he “somersaulted” in the air. She said the forensic evidence indicated Waiters was on the hood of the car at some point and that his hand was on the windshield.
“According to our ballistics expert, he indicated that the impact was so hard, it’s called reflex action,” Burris-Alcide said.
That “reflex action” was the firing of the gun in Waiters’ right hand.
The bullet fired killed Hunter. Burris-Alcide said Hunter’s death was the result of negligence.
“This was truly an accidental death,” she said.
Burris-Alcide said Waiters recognized he shouldn’t have been carrying the gun. She said he hoped both families would be able to move past this event.
Prior to this incident, Waiters, a former customer relations manager at Bank of America, had no prior record, according to the State Law Enforcement Division. He has been on house arrest for more than a year, awaiting trial, Burris-Alcide said.
The impact of the car injured Waiters’ shoulder, requiring surgery, Burris-Alcide said, and he has more than $11,000 in medical expenses.
A member of the Hunter family said he did not have a comment in response to Friday’s sentencing.
Rachel Southmayd • 803-329-4072