Palmetto Opinion

SC editorials: Police shootings, corruption probe, prescription epidemic

Solicitor David Pascoe outlines evidence against Bobby Harrell at the former SC House speaker’s guilty plea.
Solicitor David Pascoe outlines evidence against Bobby Harrell at the former SC House speaker’s guilty plea.

Hammond settlement

A $2.15 million settlement between the family of Zachary Hammond and the city of Seneca provides a measure of closure for the Hammond family, but as they said in a news conference this past week, the settlement closes just one chapter of the tragic case.

Hammond, 19, was shot and killed by a Seneca Police officer during an attempted drug arrest in a fast-food parking lot last July. The officer, Lt. Mark Tiller, said he fired at Hammond because he believed Hammond was trying to run him over. Video of the incident, released only after a lawsuit was filed by The Greenville News and other news outlets, raised questions about the shooting.

The video, especially when viewed in slow motion, appears to show Tiller was not in danger of being run over and that Hammond was trying to flee the scene. Even Solicitor Chrissy Adams said after the video was released that it was “troublesome” and that it “demands answers,” according to a Greenville News report at the time. …

Being a police officer is a dangerous job and our officers deserve the support of the communities they serve. But that support should never come at the cost of public oversight. These are public agencies, hired and paid by the people to protect and serve our communities. The only direct oversight we have over law enforcement agencies — and other public entities, for that matter — is the prompt release of public records so citizens can review and evaluate the agencies’ performance.

That is critically important in the case of a shooting by police, and the importance is even more vital when legitimate questions are raised about the shooting.

Wilson-Pascoe dispute

What shouldn’t be lost in this ongoing turf dispute is the seriousness of the matter under review. The current investigation is an outgrowth of SLED’s 2014 probe into Mr. Harrell’s misuse of campaign funds. SLED cited possible ethics violations by other legislators, whose names were not released.

The grand jury has subpoena power and can compel testimony. One of its responsibilities is investigating public corruption.

It is discouraging that the attorney general’s office and Mr. Pascoe were unable to resolve a technical difference after Mr. Pascoe had spent nine months investigating the case.

But at least Mr. McIntosh’s letter … pledged “any investigative tools, including the State Grand Jury,” at the solicitor’s request.

The public interest has not dimmed over the months since the investigation got under way. Allegations of public corruption should not be allowed to linger. The State Grand Jury should be the next stop.

Post & Courier


Prescription database

What was once a growing problem has become a national epidemic: prescription drug abuse. …

On Friday, (the state) began requiring most South Carolina prescribers (physicians, dentists, etc.) to consult the state’s prescription drug database before writing a Schedule II, III or IV controlled substance prescription for patients who are on Medicaid or enrolled in the state health insurance plan for employees and their dependents. Controlled substances of this nature include drugs such as OxyContin, Percocet, Vicodin, Xanax and Valium. The mandate does not apply to physicians when treating patients who are in long-term care or hospice.

Consulting the database enables prescribers to see patients’ controlled substance prescription history before issuing such prescriptions. Failure to consult the database can result in withheld Medicaid or state health plan payments as well as being reported to the appropriate medical licensing boards.

To say this was a necessary step is a major understatement. Before Friday, when consulting the database was voluntary, only 21 percent of the state’s physicians enrolled to access it, according to a 2014 report from the Prescription Drug Abuse Prevention Council, established by Gov. Nikki Haley.

Clearly, the voluntary participation method failed miserably. So South Carolina is now pressing the issue, and rightfully so considering such lax participation.