Crime & Courts

Officer-involved shootings might reach 15-year high, One dead in Lexington County Monday

South Carolina remains on a pace to have the most officer-involved shootings in at least 15 years after a fatal officer-involved shooting in Lexington County Monday and another incident in the Upstate involving a drug sting over the weekend.

Two Lexington County Sheriff’s deputies responded to a call around 4:45 p.m. Monday in the 100 block of East Selwood Lane off North Lake Drive near Irmo, department spokesman Adam Myrick said in a statement.

The deputies arrived to find a man attacking a family member with a knife, Myrick said. Fearing for the life of the family member, both officers fired their service weapons, fatally striking the subject, he said.

The man was killed in the shooting, according to Lexington County Coroner Margaret Fisher.

As is standard procedure in an officer-involved shooting, SLED was called to investigate the incident, Myrick said. Both deputies have been placed on paid administrative leave pending the results of that investigation, he said.

Earlier this weekend, Zachary Hammond was shot twice in the chest around 8:20 p.m. Sunday after accelerating his car toward an officer in an Upstate fast food restaurant parking lot, Oconee County Coroner Karl Addis said in a statement.

Hammond had driven a 23-year-old woman to the parking lot after an undercover officer arranged to buy drugs from her, according to a police report.

The undercover officer pulled up beside Hammond’s car to buy the drugs and an officer in uniform was coming up to help with any arrests when Hammond drove his car toward the lawman, Seneca Police Chief John Covington said in a statement.

The officer fired his weapon twice, striking the suspect twice in the upper body, Addis said.

The identity of the officer who fired the shots had not been released Tuesday, but Covington said he has worked with the Seneca Police Department for five years and worked for another law enforcement agency prior to that. He has been put on administrative leave while the State Law Enforcement Division investigates.

It was the first officer-involved shooting in Seneca in at least 15 years, the chief said.

After a small bag of marijuana was found in the front seat of Hammond’s car, Tori Morton was charged with simple possession of marijuana and released, police said.

SLED said this is the 29th officer-involved shooting this year. The state is on pace for 50 officer-involved shootings in 2015, eclipsing the previous 15-year high of 45 officer shootings in 2012.

Shootings involving police officers in South Carolina have been on the rise since 27 were reported in 2009, with more than 40 reported in each of the past three years.

Associated Press and The Greenville News contributed