Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Zachary Hammond's Killing Was Self Defense? Video Shows Cop's Life Was Not In Danger

No charges for cop who killed Zachary Hammond
It's sad but unfortunately not surprising hearing today's announcement that no charges will be filed against Seneca (South Carolina) Police Department Lieutenant Mark Tiller in the shooting death of teenager Zachary Hammond back on the night of July 25th.

Even though Hammond (pictured left) was unarmed at the time that he was targeted for a simple weed "buy and bust" operation as he sat in his car in the parking lot of a Hardees fast food joint, Seneca City Administrator Greg Dietterick said that an investigation "shows that Lt. Tiller was acting in self defense."

Tiller claimed he feared for his life because he thought Hammond was preparing to try and run him over with his car, but an autopsy requested by Hammond's parents showed their son was shot in the side and the back - so it's still unclear how he could have been getting ready to run Tiller over.

As in the case of any kid who's unarmed and committing a relatively minor offense (or no offense) when they're killed by a member of law enforcement, regardless of race or ethnicity, I really feel bad for the parents, family and friends of the victim.

There's something deeply troubling about a young person on the cusp of life who's simply making a mistake have his or her life taken by someone who's sworn to "serve and protect."

That's not to say that members of law enforcement who risk their lives to protect us don't have the right to use deadly force when necessary; but a 19-year old kid sitting in the parking lot of a Hardees when his 23-year old date sells a bag of weed to an undercover cop? C'mon.

Zachary's parents Angie and Paul Hammond
I blogged about this incident back on August 17th in the wake of his parent's public complaints that the media wasn't paying attention to their son's death at the hands of an overzealous cop.

I made the observation that major media outlets including the The New York Times, The Washington and other outlets around the world had covered Hammond's killing.

But his death was somewhat overshadowed by the killing of African-American motorist Samuel DuBose seven days earlier.

If you recall, the week that Hammond was shot in South Carolina, there was something of a media frenzy over the release of the body cam footage of University of Cincinnati campus cop Ray Tensing shooting DuBose in the head at point blank range while DuBose had his hands up.

Plus, Sandra Bland's arrest in Texas had taken place on July 10th, so the mysterious circumstances surrounding her death were the subject of global media scrutiny at the time.

Also Seneca PD hadn't yet released any video footage of Tiller shooting Hammond - and now we know why.

If you haven't watched it yet, take a look at this 42 second video clip taken from the dash cam of Lt. Mark Tiller's police vehicle.

Seneca PD Lt. Mark Tiller
There's no sound and it's not bloody or anything and you can't actually see Zachary Hammond.

What you can see is Hammond attempting to pull away and flee the scene after Tiller pulls up and draws his pistol.

Now as I've said before, I'm no expert on police tactics or use of force.

But as an average reasonable citizen, from this video I think it's pretty clear that Hammond was not at all aiming his car towards Lt. Tiller to intentionally try and run him down.

In fact Tiller is clearly at the side of Hammond's vehicle as the terrified kid tries to make a run for it; fleeing the scene was a crime but he shouldn't have been shot and killed for it.

At no time is the front of Hammond's car aimed towards Tiller.

Judge for yourself. Click the link above and watch it a couple times; does that look like a legit claim of "self defense", or an overzealous cop who unloaded his weapon on an unarmed kid who'd just sold some weed to an undercover agent?

Regardless, the Solicitor for the Tenth Circuit Court, Chrissy Adams, decided the evidence warranted no charges for the man who took Zachary Hammond's life. As she said in a statement earlier today:

"After careful consideration of the facts of the case, a thorough review of the state investigation, and an extensive review of all applicable law, I have decided that no criminal charges should be filed against Lt. Mark Tiller at the state level."

There are a lot of families in this country used to hearing statements like that.

And here we are again, another dead kid and another case of blatant and unnecessary use of deadly force by a police officer whose wrongdoing and error in judgement has been concealed by the blanket claim of "self defense".



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