We rely on police officers and troopers to enforce the law and remain within its constraints.
But on occasions members of the agencies who bring charges find themselves on the receiving end of them. A case in point is the former state trooper who is facing a felony charge over the shooting of an unarmed man during a traffic stop in Columbia, earlier in September.
The State reported on how the State Law Enforcement Division stated in a news release that 31-year-old Sean Groubert was charged on September 23 with assault and battery of a high and aggravated nature. He faces a sentence of up to 20 years in prison if convicted.
Investigators say Groubert stopped a driver for a seatbelt violation on Sept. 4. The victim got out of his car and reached into the back of his vehicle. Investigators said the trooper then shot him. Groubert was fired last week.
The arrest warrant cited video and statements that suggested the shooting was not justified, The State reported.
The incident led to allegations of racial profiling. While the trooper is white the man he is accused of shooting - Levar Edward Jones – is an African American.
"The incident inflamed many African-Americans in the wake of fatal shootings of unarmed black teens in Florida and Missouri," reported The State.
"I think we need to revisit the anti-profiling legislation to put some teeth in it," Rep. Joe Neal, D-Richland, said shortly after the announcement of Groubert's dismissal. "There can be a carrot and stick approach."
Leroy Smith, who leads the agency that oversees the patrol, has publicly defended the trooper's dismissal. "This incident occurred in broad daylight. Mr. Groubert had a clear and unobstructed view of Mr. Jones," Smith said in a statement reported in The State.
"While Mr. Groubert was within the law to stop Mr. Jones for a safety-belt violation, the force administered in this case was unwarranted, inconsistent with how our troopers are trained and clearly in violation of department policies," Smith said.
As Columbia violent crime lawyers, we defend people who are charged with crimes such as assault and robbery in an area with one of the highest rates of violent crime in the nation. We see cases in which police officers and other investigators overstep the bounds of what is reasonable, on occasions. If you have been charged with a violent crime you are likely to be facing a stiff penalty. Call Masella Law at 803.748.9990.