South Carolina Cop Charged After Dashcam Video Of Shooting Of Unarmed Man Emerges

A South Carolina State Trooper has been charged in connection with the shooting of an unarmed man at a gas station that seem pretty outrageous: (emphasis mine)

On Sept. 4, Groubert pulled over Levar Edward Jones for a seatbelt violation in Columbia, South Carolina, and subsequently shot the unarmed man in the hip. In newly released video, Groubert is heard asking Jones for his license. As Jones reaches into his car, the officer is seen moving quickly while pointing his gun and shouting, “Get out of the car!” He then fires four shots at Jones as he falls backwards away from the car with his hands in the air. Groubert cuffs the injured driver, who can be heard asking, “What did I do, sir?” Groubert then asks Jones if he was hit. “Why did you shoot me?” Jones asks, to which the former officer responds he shot because “you dove head-first back into your car.” The South Carolina Department of Public Safety fired Groubert last week. A South Carolina prosecutor asked the U.S. Attorney’s Office to review the case. The charges carry a maximum sentence of up to 20 years in prison, according to NBC station WIS.

Here’s the dashcam video:

Quite obviously, there would have been no charges, and Groubert probably never would have been fired if there had not been video of this incident that clearly shows the officer shooting first and asking questions later under circumstances in which his life clearly wasn’t in danger. Imagine if Officer Wilson had had a working dashboard camera, or better yet, a body camera, when he met Michael Brown on the streets of Ferguson, Missouri on August 9th.

FILED UNDER: Crime, Law and the Courts, Quick Takes
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug holds a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010 and contributed a staggering 16,483 posts before his retirement in January 2020.

Comments

  1. CSK says:

    Underscores the need for body cams and dash cams.

    In a somewhat related issue (law enforcement), Eric Holder has announced his resignation pending the confirmation of his successor.

  2. Liberal Capitalist says:

    Can we call all the police nationally in for a weekend of intensive re-training?

    Some of the topics to be discussed:

    1) Beating someone does not lead to cooperation.

    2) Asking “Why am I being stopped?” does not mean “Resisting Arrest”.

    3) Don’t lead with guns blazing. At least try talking.

    4) Don’t assume that everyone wants to kill you.

    5) “Black” does not mean “kill to eliminate threat”.

    Seriously… it would have to cost less than the weapons of war that the Feds have been passing out like candy for sociopaths.

  3. Paul L. says:
  4. John Burgess says:

    Just wondering if the gas station has its own video. Most do these days.

  5. michael reynolds says:

    This is a direct consequence of the gun cult’s hold on this country. Police in other countries do not shoot people. Why? Because their people aren’t likely to be armed.

    If you saturate society with guns you get fear; if you have fear you have overreaction. That shooting would never have occurred in the UK or France or Sweden or any other civilized nation.

    Guns = fear = death.

    Another dead black man, another ruined cop, thank you NRA, the Congressional whores who support them, and ideological morons who cannot admit that they are not just wrong but dangerously, terribly wrong.

  6. Paul L. says:

    @michael reynolds:

    another ruined cop

    The Gun Culture is responsible for all Police Misconduct resulting in the witchhunts of Chicago PD hero cops Cmdr Burge, Cmdr Evans and Anthony Abbate.

  7. OldSouth says:

    Wow! This is a case that never goes to trial, either in criminal or civil.

    The Southern ‘I am a cop therefore I am the law’ approach has to stop. The distrust between citizens and law enforcement is now thick in the air here in the South.

    A few suggestions: Long Long Long jail time for the officer, as in he sees the outside world at about age 65.

    Firing of his immediate supervisors, up to Chief of Police. That sends a message across Dixie.

    There will, of course, be a large civil settlement. The amount should be made public. That sends another message across Dixie.

    Any firm considering a business relocation to South Carolina should ditch the plan publicly unless concrete action in this case is taken, and preventative action taken with other police departments. That well and truly sends the message, and will serve as a motivator to the prosecutors and city legal department.

    The South is a patchwork of overlapping jurisdictions, each sporting its own police force, each eager to generate cash from citations, for violations real or imaginary. The moral hazard is overwhelming. Between my driveway and downtown of large city nearby, 35 miles, I traverse at least seven separate jurisdictions, each of them eager to harvest cash every time I climb behind the wheel. Yes, I drive slowly, and yes I know that may not be enough when a quota needs to be met.

  8. anjin-san says:

    We absolutely need dash cams & body cams on a nationwide basis – after all, what are average citizens being told about the ever increasing amount of surveillance they live with? Oh yes, its “if you’ve done nothing wrong, you have nothing to worry about.”

    Another aspect of this issue is making sure the cops don’t sabotage the cameras once they are in place:

    LAPD officers tampered with in-car recording equipment, records show

    An inspection by Los Angeles Police Department investigators found about half of the estimated 80 cars in one South L.A. patrol division were missing antennas, which help capture what officers say in the field. The antennas in at least 10 more cars in nearby divisions had also been removed.

    LAPD Chief Charlie Beck and other top officials learned of the problem last summer but chose not to investigate which officers were responsible.

    Members of the Police Commission, which oversees the department, were not briefed about the problem until months later. In interviews with The Times, some commissioners said they were alarmed by the officers’ attempts to conceal what occurred in the field, as well as the failure of department officials to come forward when the problem first came to light.

    http://articles.latimes.com/2014/apr/07/local/la-me-lapd-tamper-20140408

  9. Franklin says:

    Wow, that was sickening. At one point the poor guy is saying, “I’m sorry” after being told he dived back into his vehicle. He has nothing to be sorry for. I hope he gets his millions of dollars in settlement, preferably from the officer’s retirement account.

  10. Moosebreath says:

    This story sounds pretty familiar to me, though with a far less violent ending.

    A few years ago, I was walking through my neighborhood after the kids went to bed. I was talking to a friend on my cell phone as I walked.

    I was about 2 blocks from home, walking on the sidewalk of a major street when I suddenly heard a voice from about 100 feet behind me, turned and saw a flashlight. The person behind the flashlight asked me for ID. I said goodbye to my friend on the cell, and then asked if the person was a cop. He said so and asked again for my ID. I went to get my wallet out of my pocket, when I heard a panicked shout, “Get your hand out of your pocket!”.

    I said, as calmly as I could, “You asked to see my ID. It’s in my pocket. Do you want to see it or don’t you?”. Somehow, that seemed to have calmed down the cop, who looked at my ID, and then left. I am not sure what would have happened if I had lived in a worse neighborhood or if the cop had panicked a bit longer.

  11. Jenos Idanian #13 says:

    @michael reynolds: This is a direct consequence of the gun cult’s hold on this country. Police in other countries do not shoot people. Why? Because their people aren’t likely to be armed.

    Nice blaming the victim. The driver did NOTHING wrong, and got shot anyway. The cop, arguably, had cause to draw his gun, but no excuse to shoot. And if it wasn’t for the dashcam, the guy would probably be charged with resisting arrest.

    As far as the LAPD cops sabotaging the cams… that ought to be grounds for firing immediately. Along with a cop taking the fifth when testifying in a criminal case they were involved in.

  12. gVOR08 says:

    @Jenos Idanian #13: How did you get blaming the victim out of MR’s comment?

  13. gVOR08 says:

    Credit where due. The cop hit the guy once with four rounds from looks like about the length of a pickup truck. Bad attitude, horrible judgement, and poor marksmanship, but better than you usually see from US cops.

  14. what are you talking about says:

    @Jenos Idanian #13:

    Nice blaming the victim.

    what?

    The cop, arguably, had cause to draw his gun

    what?

  15. Paul L. says:

    Nice blaming the victim.

    @what are you talking about:
    @gVOR08:

    another ruined cop

    The cop is blameless because of the 1st Rule of Policing: Police have the right and the duty to go home at the end of each watch., It does not matter how many civilians are injured or killed or have their “rights” violated.

  16. what are you talking about says:

    @Paul L.:

    Do you really believe that?

  17. Paul L. says:

    @what are you talking about:
    Nope just a parroting the all purpose public sector Police union talking point.

  18. Anonne says:

    Big scary black guy wearing a polo!! Probable cause? Breathing while black! There is nothing he could have done to stop the shooting. If the id was in his back pocket, the cop would have thought he was reaching for a gun, most likely. It seems the only way to not get shot is to step aside and keep your hands up and tell the cops where to look for your f***ing id in the car.

  19. Hal_10000 says:

    This is a direct consequence of the gun cult’s hold on this country. Police in other countries do not shoot people. Why? Because their people aren’t likely to be armed.

    Are you still pushing this line? You would think after Ferguson, where cops dragged out military gear and sniper rifles in response to unarmed protesters and (supposed) rocks and molotov cocktails would have dispelled this. The fact is that cops are safer than they have ever been. Last year fewer cops were killed in the line of duty than any year since the 19th century. Assaults on cops are way way down. The supposed epidemic of North Hollywood style shootouts never happened. Even gun ownership is down (and among inner city blacks, who are the most likely to be shot by cops, gun ownership levels are low). And yet the response is more military weapons, more military training, more shoot-first-ask-questions later attitude. And more disciplinary boards, prosecutors and grand juries who are prepared to let it slide.

    We’ve seen people get shot who were holding knives or toy guns or nothing. This cop kept shooting after the guy’s hands were up. What on God’s green earth has that got to do with gun culture?

    If we banned guns tomorrow, would the cops give up their military gear and stop shooting in situations like this? You and I both know the answer is “no”. So why persist in this line of reasoning that the cops are responding to some non-existent epidemic of violence?

  20. Franklin says:

    @Jenos Idanian #13:

    The cop, arguably, had cause to draw his gun

    If it’s arguable, let’s hear the argument. Because I don’t know if I can think of a straightforward argument to pull a gun out on a seatbelt law violator.

  21. JKB says:

    @gVOR08: @Jenos Idanian #13: How did you get blaming the victim out of MR’s comment?

    Because if guns were superstitious objects to so many, the cop wouldn’t fear some hex or spell being cast upon him by random individuals.

    MR assumes the shootings are a consequence of The People possessing guns, but such possession is actually less widespread and possession about town even rarer. The thing that has changed is that people like MR have worked hard to condition people to see guns as taboo items. Their embrace of superstition, instead of knowledge, about guns creates fear. And now, anyone encountered could be a witch, I mean gun owner, and must be preemptively burned, I mean shot.

  22. anjin-san says:

    @Franklin:

    Because I don’t know if I can think of a straightforward argument to pull a gun out on a seatbelt law violator.

    Well, he is black…