South Carolina

Seneca officer fired year after fatal shooting of Zachary Hammond

Dash cam video of Zachary Hammond shooting

On July 26, 2015, 19-year-old Zachary Hammond, of Seneca, was shot and killed by Lt. Mark Tiller of the Seneca Police Department. SLED closed its investigation of the shooting and recommended that no charges should be filed against Tiller.
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On July 26, 2015, 19-year-old Zachary Hammond, of Seneca, was shot and killed by Lt. Mark Tiller of the Seneca Police Department. SLED closed its investigation of the shooting and recommended that no charges should be filed against Tiller.

Seneca Police Chief John Covington has fired officer Mark Tiller, who fatally shot unarmed teen Zachary Hammond in July 2015.

Tiller's final day on the payroll will be Friday, Covington said in a statement Saturday afternoon.

The chief said he could not provider further comment on the "personnel" matter.

Tiller will not face state prosecution, but the FBI and the U.S. Department of Justice Civil Rights Division are investigating the shooting. Tiller's attorneys have said, in court filings earlier this year, he faces "profound criminal exposure as result of the ongoing criminal investigation" by federal authorities.

Hammond, 19, was fatally shot when he drove his 2002 Honda Civic away from Tiller during a botched police drug sting in a Hardee’s parking lot on July 26, 2015.

Tiller was placed on paid leave after the shooting. He was making $18.25 an hour at the time and had received three promotions in one 18-month period, according to his personnel file.

The only employment review in Tiller's personnel file is a one-page document, signed less than a month before the shooting, which gave him the highest mark in every category except for job knowledge, where he was given the second-highest possible mark.

Tiller was hired at the Seneca Police Department in January 2010. He previously had worked at the West Pelzer, Clemson University and Clemson city police departments.

Seneca Mayor Dan Alexander did not respond to text messages or phone calls Saturday.

In a statement released Saturday, Hammond's parents said they had waited for more than a year for Tiller to be fired and that he should have been fired long ago.

"As has been the case for the last year, the taxpayers of Seneca have paid and continue to pay Lt. Tiller's salary," according to the Hammonds' statement. "This defies logic. All lives matter, and it is an injustice to each and every American when an officer-related shooting is not handled with sensitivity and absolute transparency. Anarchy is not the answer."

The family's statement says regardless of whether Tiller is found guilty of any crime, he is not the kind of officer Seneca should employ.

The Hammonds reached a $2.15 million settlement in March with the city of Seneca, the city's police department, Tiller and Covington. In their statement Saturday, the family said no amount of money can heal the loss of Zachary, but they hope to continue to push legislators to force quicker public access to both police body camera and dash camera video as well lend support to a bill to prohibit officers from firing into moving vehicles.

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