Witnesses: ‘shattered glass everywhere’ at scene of shooting death in Chester
The two Chester County police officers who fatally shot a suspect in February, after the man pointed a gun at them, used lawful and appropriate force to protect themselves, South Carolina’s top prosecutor said.
On Feb. 27, officers shot Dustin James Case. Case had wrecked a stolen car after a high-speed chase, police and prosecutors said.
Case was armed and pointed a gun at officers before he was killed, police said. Case, 20, was from Travelers Rest.
Alan Wilson, S.C. Attorney General, decided after an investigation by the State Law Enforcement Division, that the officers acted legally in shooting the suspect.
Jerrod Fussnecker, an assistant attorney general, wrote to SLED that no criminal charges should be brought against the officers. In that letter, Fussnecker identified the officers as Lt. Albert Crawford of the Chester County Sheriff’s Office, and Chester Police Department Cpl. Hunter Harrison.
“Officers Crawford and Harrison used lawful and appropriate force under the circumstances,” Fussnecker wrote in a letter to SLED Chief Mark Keel. “The officers discharged their weapons while exercising their lawful duties as law enforcement officers, in response to an apparent threat in order to defend themselves from serious bodily injury.”
After the shooting, the sheriff’s office and police department asked SLED to investigate. Sixth Circuit Solicitor Randy Newman, top prosecutor for Chester County, asked the attorney general to decide if there should be any charges.
The case was closed by law enforcement in June but the attorney general’s decision was not released until last week. Newman confirmed to The Herald that the shooting was ruled justified by state prosecutors.
Case, the suspect, had stolen the car from a motel near Richburg in rural Chester County before he was pursued by police, officers said. Investigators also recovered more than two pounds of drugs believed to be methamphetamine, police said.
The crash and shooting happened in the 600 block of Saluda Road inside the Chester city limits.
In a news conference after the incident both Chester County Sheriff Alex Underwood and Chester Police Department Chief Eric Williams said the officers had no choice but to shoot the suspect.
Chester Police Department Chief Williams said last week that the incident is a reminder of the dangers of police work. Williams said officers sometimes have to make split-second decisions to defend themselves or the public.
“Deadly force is a last resort but it in this instance they had to use it,” Williams said.
Williams said both he and Underwood were proud of the officers that day and that the use of force was unfortunate.
“This was a life or death situation,” Williams said.