A suspect in a stolen car, who pulled a handgun on police after a high-speed chase and crash late Tuesday in Chester County, was fatally shot by two officers.
Dustin James Case, 20, of Travelers Rest, near Greenville, died from gunshot wounds, said Terry Tinker, Chester County Coroner. Sixth Circuit Solicitor Randy Newman confirmed Case “armed with a handgun, was shot and killed.”
The shooting happened about 11:30 p.m. near the 600 block of Saluda Road and First Street in Chester, said Thom Berry, spokesman for the State Law Enforcement Division.
The officers were not injured.
One officer who fired at the suspect was a Chester County Sherriff’s Office deputy and the other was a Chester Police Department officer, Berry said. The officers have not yet been identified by either department or by state agents investigating the shooting.
Both officers are on administrative leave, pending the SLED investigation, said Chester County Sheriff Alex Underwood and Chester Police Chief Eric Williams.
“Asking a third party to investigate and leave for the officers afterward is standard procedure, it does not mean the officers did anything wrong,” Williams said.
Both Underwood and Williams said during a press conference Wednesday afternoon that the officers were justified in using lethal force after the suspect pointed a handgun at the them. Case was shot multiple times in the chest, Underwood said. The officers were between 5 and 10 feet from Case when Case pointed the gun at the officers, Underwood said.
“My officer has to respond with an equal amount of force,” Williams said.
Underwood said shooting anyone is devastating for any officer but his deputy was justified because “the initiation was by the bad guy who pointed a gun at the officers. They had no choice.”
The Chester city officer has two years of experience with the department, Williams said.
The deputy involved in the shooting has 15 years experience, Underwood said.
Case is a white male, Berry said. One of the officers involved was a white male and the other was a black male.
Sheriff’s deputies responded to the initial call late Tuesday about a car stolen from a Richburg motel, in eastern Chester County near Interstate 77, Berry said.
Officers pursued the suspect, then the suspect crashed the stolen vehicle, he said.
Officers from the sheriff’s office and Chester police approached the vehicle, Berry said. The suspect displayed a gun toward the officers and they shot the suspect, Berry said.
Other officers were on the scene, but the preliminary investigation shows two officers fired their weapons, Berry said.
Chester sheriff’s officials confirmed there was a “high-speed pursuit.” It is unclear what speeds the pursuit reached, Underwood said at the news conference.
Underwood said his deputies were close to the motel when the report of the stolen car came. He also confirmed the pursuit went from the county jurisdiction west into Chester city limits.
“I am glad the officers were not injured,” Underwood said.
Officers on the scene also found 2 pounds of drugs believed to be methamphetamine in the car driven by Case, Underwood said at the press conference. Yet because the car was stolen it remains under investigation where the drugs came from,. Underwood said.
“We are looking at all of it,” Underwood said.
Officers from both agencies worked together and were on the scene of the crash when confronted by the suspect.
“Unfortunately, we did have a fatality,” Williams said. “It happens in our line of work. We just don’t know when it is going to happen.”
Chester County Supervisor Shane Stuart, a former sheriff’s deputy, said public safety and the safety of officers is paramount.
“I was relieved to find out the officers were not injured,” Stuart said.
There is dashcam video from the incident and body cam footage, but investigators have not yet reviewed it, Berry said. Prosecutors who will determine if any charges will be filed also have not yet seen the footage, Newman said.
He said his office is working with SLED agents but investigators are still compiling evidence.
Newman asked the public “for patience” as his office reviews the incident. It is unclear how long it will take, Newman said.
The officer-involved shooting is the first in Chester County this year and sixth in South Carolina, SLED records show. There were 49 officer involved shootings in the state in 2017.