South Carolina deputy shoots homeowner through window, body camera shows

Corrections & clarifications: This story has been updated to reflect that AXON is not the manufacturer of the Greenville County Sheriff’s Office’s body cameras.

GREENVILLE, S.C. – Footage captured by a South Carolina deputy's body camera shows the moment he shot and injured a homeowner last month, and the events that led up to and after the shooting.

The events in the video differ from the original account of the June 14 shooting that was reported by the Greenville County Sheriff's Office. In the video, the deputy shoots the man through the window of the Simpsonville house. Initially, the agency said the man was shot after he opened the door and pointed his gun at the deputy.

There was no audio for the first 30 seconds of the video, including when the deputy fired his gun.

AXON, a leading manufacturer of police body cameras, explains on its website that while in "buffer mode" body cameras are recording video, but do not capture audio, and only create 30-second clips that are not saved to permanent memory until cameras are fully activated.

AXON does not produce the Greenville County Sheriff's Office's body cameras.

After he is shot, the man shouts for someone to "call the cops." The deputy responds, "I am the cops."

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The man who was shot was not charged, according to a critical incident report released by the Sheriff's Office.

A deputy responded to the house after a cellphone emergency alarm was reported at 11:49 p.m. to Greenville County Communications. The deputy went to the home after failed attempts to contact the cellphone from which the alarm originated.

Capt. Tim Brown, of the Sheriff's Office's Office of Professional Standards, said in the critical incident briefing video that was posted to YouTube that the deputy walked away from the porch, but approached it again when he saw movement inside the house. Brown said the deputy saw a man holding a gun and pointed his flashlight at him.

The Sheriff's Office said there would be no further comment about the video. The agency declined to share a copy of the edited video file since the primary public information officer was out of town, said Lt. Jimmy Bolt, a spokesman for the Sheriff's Office.

Brown said the man turned and pointed his gun at the deputy, at which point the deputy fired multiple shots through the window as he left the porch.

The body camera footage shows the deputy approach the front door, and a man can be seen through the front window. The deputy is then seen pointing his flashlight through the window and firing, but the light prevents the camera from capturing what's going on inside the house.

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“The Sheriff’s Office’s statement for weeks after the shooting (was) that my client opened his front door and aimed at deputy and you can look at that bodycam – that ends that version,” attorney Beattie Ashmore said Monday morning after the clips of body camera footage was posted to YouTube by the Sheriff’s Office. “It’s difficult to explain how something like this could have happened.”

For about 40 seconds after firing shots through the window, the deputy communicates with the man inside while standing in the front yard. The man can be heard yelling in pain during the exchange.

The deputy then goes inside and finds the man on the ground near the front door.

The man, whose face is pixelated in the video, tells the deputy that he's been shot in the groin and the chest.

After entering the house, the deputy proceeds to give the man first aid as they wait for the ambulance to arrive.

As the deputy gets ready to treat him, the man yells, "I saw lights and I heard the door bell ring, so I got my gun. I'm a concealed weapons guy."

Several seconds later, the man asks, "Why did you do that?" and the deputy responds, "You pointed a gun at me, man." The man replies, "Dude, you came to my house at 12 o'clock at night, I'm sleeping. (Expletive), I've got to protect my house."

Ashmore is representing the homeowner, Dick Tench, who he described as a “fiercely patriotic” citizen and concealed weapons permit holder.

Tench saw reflections from the deputy’s flashlight and came to see who was at his home, wondering whether an intruder had even broken into his house, Ashmore said.

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“He carries a concealed weapons permit. That’s a four-hour class where they teach you to first know what you’re shooting at when you first pull the trigger. Apparently, the officer didn’t attend that class.”

Ashmore said the video is evidence to show the deputy lied about the justification behind his actions.

"Somebody was," he said, after being asked whether the deputy was lying about the nature of the confrontation.

Tench is recovering but spent the first 30 days after the shooting with two bullets still lodged into his body, Ashmore said. He suffered one gunshot wound to his aortic artery and one to his pelvis. Two other bullets grazed his side, Ashmore said.

“This has shaken him to the core,” Ashmore said. “They are super fine people. There’s just more to the story here.”

The alarm that Greenville County Communications received was a medical emergency alarm, but there was no emergency at the home, Brown said in the video.

The State Law Enforcement Division is investigating the shooting. The Sheriff's Office also is conducting an internal investigation to determine whether the agency's use of force policy was violated during the incident. The deputy was placed on paid administrative leave after the shooting.

The Sheriff's Office has declined to release the name of the deputy.

Follow Conor Hughes and Daniel J. Gross on Twitter: @ConorJHughes and @DanieljGross

This article originally appeared on The Greenville News: Deputy-involved shooting: Video shows deputy shoot man through window