Shooter sentenced to 40 years in Rock Hill murder during botched drug deal

A Rock Hill gang member described by police and prosecutors as one of the city’s most notorious and violent criminals was sentenced Monday to 40 years in prison over a killing during a botched drug deal and several other shootings between November and January.

Abbdul Omar Emmanuel, 20, pleaded guilty in July to voluntary manslaughter and other crimes in the January shooting and killing of Michael Giddens, 25, during what was described in court as a robbery of Giddens and another man during a drug deal.

Teens still in high school had gone with Emmanuel in January to buy drugs from a man with Giddens and found Giddens in a chair holding a sawed-off shotgun. Emmanuel – himself still a teen during the crime spree – shot Giddens and fled, sparking a two-state manhunt that ended days later after Emmanuel’s mother and sister allegedly helped him escape.

Pamela St. Hill wept as she apologized to Giddens’ family, explaining that she was a single mother who had tried to raise her son the right way. Emmanuel’s father was released from prison the same month that Emmanuel – who police say is a member of the 715 Fam gang – was arrested, St. Hill said.

As St. Hill sobbed, Emmanuel started to cry and told Circuit Court Judge Edward Miller that he was sorry for what he had done. Emmanuel claimed that Giddens pointed the shotgun at another robber during the incident and that he only shot Giddens to protect his friend.

“I am not a murderer or a monster that the media and Rock Hill makes me out be,” Emmanuel said.

But prosecutors and police say Emmanuel set up the attempted ripoff from the drug dealers, then shot at one of his accomplices and the alleged drug dealer after shooting Giddens. In the days and weeks before the shooting, police and prosecutors say, Emmanuel also was involved in several drive-by shootings and other crimes around Rock Hill – including one in which he chased a rival gang member through city streets and into the home of a terrified neighbor.

Emmanuel also pleaded guilty to shooting incidents in November and January as part of Monday’s sentencing.

“This man here today is one of the most violent people Rock Hill has ever seen,” Maj. Steve Parker of the Rock Hill Police Department told Judge Miller. “Shootings were happening one, two a week before he was arrested. It could have been 10 or 20 victims, but for that he wasn’t a good shot.”

Emmanuel’s criminal history dates back to when he was 13, including felonies such as burglary and assault by a mob. He “terrorized neighborhoods during a shooting spree” and was a threat to the safety of all Rock Hill residents before he was caught after killing Giddens, 16th Circuit Solicitor Kevin Brackett said.

Despite his age, Brackett said, there is “no redeeming character” in Emmanuel, and he asked Miller to impose the maximum 40-year sentence allowed under the July plea deal.

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