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September 4, 2014

SC Highway Patrol trooper shoots motorist during traffic stop in St. Andrews

A South Carolina Highway Patrol trooper shot a motorist Thursday afternoon during a traffic stop in the Circle K gas station parking lot at Broad River and Whiteford roads.

A South Carolina Highway Patrol trooper shot a motorist Thursday afternoon during a traffic stop in the Circle K gas station parking lot at Broad River and Whiteford roads.

Lt. Kelley Hughes of the S.C. Department of Public Safety said the trooper, whose identity was not revealed, pulled the driver over for an undisclosed traffic violation around 5 p.m. and, at some point during the stop, got into an incident with the driver and fired a service weapon.

Hughes said he does not know why the officer pulled the SUV driver or which weapon the trooper might have been carrying. Troopers often carry a side arm and a secondary gun, sometimes at their ankles.

Normally, troopers carry .45-caliber Glocks on their hips.

The driver of the burgundy and white Dodge Durango, who was shot during the incident, was taken to Palmetto Health Richland hospital. The trooper was not injured, Hughes said.

Late Thursday night, the director of the S.C. Department of Public Safety addressed unanswered issues surrounding the shooting.

“We know the public and community have many questions at this time,” Leroy Smith said in a statement. “I can assure the community that we are assisting (SLED) in every way to ensure a full and thorough investigation.”

The Public Safety department oversees the patrol.

Smith also said an internal investigation will be done once SLED is finished with its probe.Witnesses told WLTX TV that several shots were heard, but Hughes, speaking about three hours after the incident occurred, could not say how many times the trooper fired or what prompted his action.

The trooper has been assigned to a desk job during the investigation, as is standard practice, and the incident is under investigation by the S.C. State Law Enforcement Division.

SLED spokesman Thomas Berry said his agency sent agents from nearby SLED headquarters as well as from the regional SLED office.

SLED crime scene specialists also were dispatched.

This is the 32nd officer-involved shooting in South Carolina this year, Berry said. Last year at this time, about 28 such incidents had been reported.

The year 2013 saw 44 officers involved in shootings – the largest number in at least 14 years, Berry said.

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