Prosecutors announced on Tuesday that the South Carolina police officer who fatally shot 19-year-old Zachary Hammond during a pot bust this summer will not face criminal charges. The decision was based on a review of disturbing dash cam footage—which authorities had reportedly refused to release to the public until this week.
According to Greenville Online, 10th Circuit Solicitor Chrissy Adams said that after evaluating the video frame by frame, she concluded that Lt. Mark Tiller was “justified in firing on the unarmed 19-year-old to protect himself and others from being run over by Hammond’s car.” However, she also admitted that the newly released footage is “troublesome” and “demands answers.”
Tiller shot and killed Hammond on July 26 during a sting operation after police were tipped off that Hammond’s friend, who was also in the car, was planning to sell a small amount of marijuana. Tiller claimed that he was in danger of being run over by Hammond’s car when he shot the teen, but the new video doesn’t exactly match Tiller’s story.
“I think they’re grabbing pretty hard saying that Zach was trying to run over the officer. It didn’t look like that in the video to me,” Paul Hammond, Zachary’s father, told the Greenville News. “He’s running beside the car. If anything he put himself in that position. To me it was very sloppy police work.”
Adams acknowledged in a letter to the State Law Enforcement Division that Tiller violated proper police procedures but said that it doesn’t constitute a criminal violation. As of Tuesday, Tiller remained on administrative leave, and Hammond’s family plans to go forward with a civil lawsuit while federal authorities conduct an independent investigation.
Please be warned that the footage from the shooting is extremely unsettling and graphic. If you wish to watch it, please click HERE.