South Carolina Officer Shoots Unarmed Teen

Police Brutality a Growing Issue

Caucasian teenager Zachary Hammond was shot and killed by a police officer while eating icecream on a date in South Carolina. Hammond, 19, was shot twice in his shoulder and torso. He was unarmed.

The incident occurred in the parking lot of a Hardee’s fast-food restaurant in Seneca. An incident report from Seneca police said Morton was the target of a police investigation. 

The officer was said to be conducting a drug investigation and claimed to have shot Hammond in self-defence. A small amount of marijuana was found in the glove compartment of Hammond’s car. Tori Morton, Hammond’s date was arrested on charges of “simple possession of marijuana”. 

Seneca Police Chief John Covington said in a statement that the officer, who has not yet been named, was “a uniformed officer, he was in a marked vehicle, [and] was out of his vehicle on foot approaching the suspect vehicle”. 

The Hammond family commissioned an independent autopsy, which found evidence of Hammond “being seated in a motor vehicle and being shot from the side of the vehicle through an open driver’s side window”.

Covington said the officer shot because he “felt threatened by [Hammond], who was driving his car toward the officer attempting to make the stop”.

However, the private autopsy indicated the car wasn’t moving when he was shot. 

The family’s attorney, Eric Bland, told the Guardian, “When [the officer] shot, it was physically impossible for the car to hit him, because he’s next to [Hammond] … So unless a hurricane comes and blows the car over, it’s physically impossible for him to be hit by a car at that point.”

Bland said: “He was a 19-year-old, 121-pound kid killed basically for a joint.” 

Hammond’s mother, Angie, told CNN, “Not only are we grieving that our son is gone, we don’t know why it happened or what happened. We’re just trying to find answers.”

“The media and our government officials have treated the death of an unarmed white teenager differently than they would have if this were a death of an unarmed black teen. All people need to be outraged by this,” said Bland.

The officer is now on administrative leave.

This article first appeared in Issue 20, 2015.
Posted 11:27am Sunday 16th August 2015 by Jessica Thompson.