Writing as “one South Carolina mother to another,” Angie Hammond sent Gov. Nikki Haley a heartfelt plea to show the same compassion she has shown in other tragedies in the state this year and “take appropriate action” against the Seneca police officer who shot and killed her son, Zachary.
“As governor, you’ve been very vocal and tearful about senseless and tragic uses of excessive deadly force, such as in North Charleston and at the church in Charleston,” Angie Hammond wrote in an open letter to the governor. “Does his life not matter just because of his past mistakes?"
Zachary Hammond, 19, was shot by Lt. Mark Tiller in an attempted drug bust in the parking lot of a Hardee’s restaurant in Seneca on July 26.
Tenth Circuit Solicitor Chrissy Adams in October decided not to bring charges against Tiller. A dash cam video released by the State Law Enforcement Division showed Tiller running up to Hammond’s car as he tried to drive away and shooting into the driver’s side window when he refused to stop.
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Tiller said he thought Hammond was trying to run over him. Adams said the legal standards weren’t met to bring criminal charges, but federal authorities are conducting a separate investigation.
Angie Hammond asked the governor to please sit down with her and watch the video. "See if you can tell me and the citizens of this state that in your heart, you believe that my son’s life, even with mistakes, didn’t matter. I want to see you tearful and choked up about this citizen of your state whose life was also cut short by excessive deadly force.”
Haley’s press secretary, Chaney Adams, said, “The governor will honor Mrs. Hammond’s request. Our office is in the process of reaching out to Mrs. Hammond to schedule a time.”
Angie Hammond drew similarities between her son’s case and the case of a North Charleston police officer who was seen on video shooting a suspect as he ran away from him.
“Both suspects were unarmed and fleeing. Both were shot from behind and killed. Both officers said they shot in self-defense,” she wrote.
“The officer in North Charleston was charged with murder; the officer in Seneca was not and even inexplicably (was) placed on paid administrative leave.”
Seneca city officials have said Tiller will remain on administrative leave until the completion of the federal probes.