No charges will be filed against deputies who shot and killed a man who was inside a parked car at the Super Lodge Inn and Suites Motel in February, Solicitor Walt Wilkins said.
Jason Mendez, 37, of Fountain Inn, was killed by Greenville County deputies on Feb. 11.
"Case closed," Wilkins said.
Wilkins said he and two other attorneys looked at the deputies' actions at the time of the incident and came to the conclusion that they could not prove beyond a doubt to a jury that the deputies actions were criminal. He said deputies asked Mendez and his girlfriend, Kristen English Clark, 32, repeatedly to get out of the car and to keep their hands where someone could see them.
A car stop is "dangerous," Wilkins said.
In hotel video footage synchronized with audio recorded on microphones released by the Wilkins on Tuesday, three deputies surrounded Mendez's vehicle and repeatedly asked him to get out of the vehicle. Mendez is heard asking deputies why are they are addressing him.
"Get out of the car and we'll talk about it," says one deputy to which Mendez responds: "I'm not getting out of the car."
"You will get out of the car whether you want to or not. I'll break you homey," one deputy responds. The deputies continue to ask Mendez to get out of the vehicle, and proceed to break the driver's side window in an attempt to restrain Mendez.
An altercation ensues as one deputy leans in and grabs Mendez. Mendez along with Clark, who is in the passenger seat, can be heard asking deputies to stop. The scuffle lasts for about 15 seconds until an officer screams "gun," the deputies retrieve their weapons and fire on Mendez. Clark is heard screaming frantically as deputies pull the unresponsive Mendez from the vehicle.
Wilkins said the three deputies actions and statements were consistent. He said all the deputies saw a gun at the same time and retreated to defensive positions. Two deputies then fired two times with Mendez being hit three times.
Investigators found a gun inside the car that had DNA on it from both Clark and Mendez. They also found methamphetamine, including two syringes. One was full of meth and the other was empty.
Autopsy results show Mendez had a high level of meth in his system.
The Mendez family, after listening to the audio, doesn't believe the shooting by deputies was warranted.
"We don't see anything on that audio that would have led to him being shot and killed. ...What I see is that this escalated in less than minute and this man being shot and killed." said Bruce Wilson, founder of Fighting Injustice Together, standing next to a grieving Kathy Mendez, the mother of Jason.
Wilson said the family will now seek an independent investigation.
Sheriff Will Lewis said Mendez failed to comply to repeated orders leading deputies to open fire.
"Our deputies were cleared and followed proper protocol," said Drew Pinciaro, spokesman for the office regarding an internal investigation. In a March interview with The Greenville News, Clark said the shooting was unjustified. She said Mendez never reached a gun and that his hands were in plain sight.