Myrtle Beach police officers involved in April shooting won’t be charged

Three Myrtle Beach police officers involved in the April shooting of an allegedly armed and suicidal man will not face any charges in connection with the incident, according to a State Law Enforcement Division report released Monday.

The officers said they feared for the lives when they fired at 40-year-old Rodolfo Sanchez of Surfside Beach, who was in a wooded area and was holding a gun when officers approached him, according to the report. Sanchez says he did not point the gun at officers and never fired the weapon, according to the report. Sanchez was shot in the leg.

Chief Deputy Solicitor Scott Hixson reviewed SLED reports and information and stated in a letter included in the SLED report: “there is no evidence of criminal behavior on behalf of the above named officers in this unfortunate incident.”

“It is clear from your work that the suspect was intoxicated and was pointing and/or presenting a handgun at the approaching officers as they ordered him to drop the weapon,” Hixson said in the letter.

William Thomas Floyd, Sanchez’s attorney, declined to comment. Sanchez could not be reached for comment.

About 10:45 a.m. April 5, Myrtle Beach officers were trying to find a man who was reportedly suicidal near 79th Avenue North and Marina Parkway after a “be on the lookout” was issued, police said.

According to his statement, Officer Matthew Cherba was on patrol in the area when he discovered a suspicious vehicle and determined it was registered to the reportedly suicidal male police were seeking.

Officers Jerrod Mackin and Officer Melanie Best arrived as backup and began looking for Sanchez, the SLED report states.

Officers said they heard a gunshot ring out after entering a nearby wooded area, according to the report.

When the officers found Sanchez in the woods, he was on the phone using one hand and had a gun in the other, the report states.

Sanchez pointed the gun toward officers who gave him multiple commands to put the gun down, according to the report.

All three officers said they feared for their lives and fired their guns at Sanchez, the report states.

Agents spoke with Sanchez while he was recovering at Grand Strand Medical Center, and he told them he lived close to the area and would visit there to walk the trials, according to the report.

He arrived in the area about 8:30 or 9 a.m. April 5 then walked back to his car to get his gun, the report states.

He stated he then walked back to the waterway and called a friend. He said when he heard the officers’ voices he turned around with the phone to his ear, raised his right hand up, which was holding a gun, and froze in that position, the report states.

“Sanchez stated at no time did he point his weapon at the officers and he did not fire his weapon,” according to the report.

“A gunshot residue test confirmed the suspect had recently fired a weapon,” according to Hixson’s letter.

Authorities spoke with the friend Sanchez had been on the phone with during the incident. Sanchez’s friend told police Sanchez wouldn’t hurt anyone and “more than likely wanted death by cop,” according to the report.

Sanchez is a registered sex offender and was convicted in October 2006 for contributing to the delinquency of a minor, records show.

Sanchez was shot in his legs by the officers involved, the report states. He was charged with first-degree assault and battery, unlawful carrying of a pistol, and unlawful carrying of a firearm while under the influence of alcohol, recording to J. Reuben Long Detention Center records. He was released from jail April 16 after being booked April 15, records show.

Mackin has been employed with the Myrtle Beach Police Department since August, 2007, and Cherba has been employed with the Myrtle Beach Police Department since July 2014. Best has been employed with the Myrtle Beach Police Department since June 2014, according to Lt. Joey Crosby with the Myrtle Beach Police Department.

Elizabeth Townsend: 843-626-0217, @TSN_etownsend