GREENVILLE, SC — A deputy who shot a knife-wielding man outside a Roper Mountain Road apartment complex last month was justified in using deadly force, an internal investigation by the Greenville County Sheriff’s Office concluded.
The State Law Enforcement Division, which routinely investigates whenever a law enforcement officer shoots a suspect, hasn’t informed the Sheriff’s Office of the status of its investigation, Deputy Drew Pinciaro said Thursday.
Jason Echeverry was shot in the chest and lower abdomen and hospitalized, Pinciaro said.
He was listed in good condition at Greenville Memorial Hospital late Thursday, according to GHS spokeswoman Sandy Dees.
Master Deputy Matt May shot Echeverry at a tennis court after chasing him behind the Huntington Downs Apartments complex on June 23, according to a report released by the Sheriff’s Office.
May had gone to the complex in response to a call about a domestic disturbance there, at 1409 Roper Mountain Road, shortly before 7 p.m., according to Lt. Ty Miller.
When he arrived, May was flagged down by a woman “in a panicked state” who pointed out Echeverry, her ex-boyfriend, who was coming around the corner of the building with a knife, Miller said.
May “drew his service weapon and ordered Echeverry to drop the knife,” Miller said. “Echeverry immediately took off running and did not comply with the commands.”
May chased Echeverry toward the apartment tennis courts, where Echeverry stopped and turned around to see where the deputy was, Miller said.
May again ordered Echeverry to drop the knife, and Echeverry told May “he would have to kill him,” Miller said.
Echeverry ran into the tennis court, where a man and his child were, “which raised concern for their safety,” Miller said.
“May continued to try and get Echeverry to comply, and attempted talking to him in an effort to calm him down,” Miller said. “At this point, Echeverry kept telling Master Deputy May that if he did not kill him he was going to kill himself.”
Echeverry then “began to become more aggressive,” and May noticed Echeverry was bleeding from his forearms, Miller said.
“Echeverry then put the knife to his own throat and slashed one way and then back the other with the knife,” Miller said. “Master Deputy May did not see blood from Echeverry’s neck and assumed he used the non-edge side of the knife.”
May again tried to get Echeverry to drop the knife and told him he was there to help him, according to Miller.
“Echeverry refused to comply and told May that he was going to kill him and began advancing towards him,” Miller said. “Master Deputy May fired his service weapon two times striking Echeverry twice.”
Echeverry fell to the ground but still didn’t let go of the knife, Miller said.
“He initially refused to drop the knife after being shot, but finally dropped it to allow Master Deputy May to render aid to him,” Miller said. “Other deputies arrived on scene and assisted May in rendering aid to Echeverry, by placing gauze in the wounds in an effort to slow the bleeding.”
No one else was injured in the incident.
The bystanders were on the far side of the four-court tennis court and no one else was nearby when May fired his gun, according to Pinciaro.
Using a Taser would have been risky, and policy procedures call for using deadly force when threatened by someone with a knife, he said.
May has been on administrative leave since the incident. Pinciaro didn’t know if he had been returned to active service.