Eric Bland was selected to the 2015 Legal Elite of the Midlands in the categories of Civil Litigation and Corporate Law, Mergers & Acquisition.
A South Carolina police officer won’t face local charges after he shot and killed 19-year-old Zachary Hammond during a drug investigation last summer. His mother Angie Hammond is calling for justice.
A South Carolina police officer won’t face local charges after he shot and killed 19-year-old Zachary Hammond during a drug investigation last summer, a prosecutor said.
In response to the press releases issued by Solicitor Chrissy Adams and Seneca City Administrator Greg Dietterick, the Hammond family offers the following. While the family must accept Ms. Adams’ decision, they disagree completely with the conclusions she has expressed publicly. The dash cam video does not show an officer who acted reasonably in self-defense because his life was threatened by Zachary’s vehicle. The video clearly shows an overly aggressive and poorly trained officer who violated every known police protocol in escalating a simple stop into a deadly shooting, including, but not limited to, the written policies and procedures of the Seneca Police Department concerning the use of excessive and deadly force. Lt. Tiller, who never identified himself as a police officer or showed his badge, dispensed his on-the-spot justice for a crime that had not even been committed. Quite simply, Tiller decided that he was going to be the judge, jury and executioner for Zachary’s decision to flee the scene.
Lt. Tiller was never at risk of harm from Zachary’s car and even if it could be argued that he was, it was a risk he created by running alongside a car that was obviously attempting to flee the scene. It is a clear violation of law and police protocol to fire shots into a fleeing vehicle. Even as Lt. Tiller was in the process of shooting Zachary, other Seneca officers were responding to the scene. Zachary had nowhere to go and would have been apprehended easily and peacefully. Zachary was obviously frightened, panicked and attempted to leave the scene. He may have been guilty of evading arrest, but this is not capital offense in America and there was no need to execute Zachary in the Hardee’s parking lot that night.
The Hammond family shares Mr. Dietterick’s prayer for healing, but it is impossible to heal from an injury that is ignored. Seneca was not wounded by outside “agitators” – it was wounded by the conduct of its own police force and leadership. The “agitators” have done nothing more than expose the injury. While grateful for the prayers offered via press release, the Hammond family remains shunned by the leadership of their hometown, none of whom have had the courage or decency to offer their condolences personally. There is indeed much healing to be done in Seneca, but the healing will only come after justice has been served. The Hammond family’s faith in God and Country remains unshaken. There will be justice for Zachary.
There will be a formal press conference to address the videos that were released, the still photos and the decision that was made by the solicitor not to prosecute in the downtown Greenville, SC plaza at 10:30am on Thursday, October 29, 2015.
Thank you very much,
Eric S. Bland and Ronnie Richter
The defendants answered allegations made in the lawsuit by Hammond’s family, denying almost all the claims, including that Police Lt. Mark Tiller was not justified when he shot Hammond twice July 26 at the Hardee’s in Seneca. They also denied that an officer gave a high-five to Hammond’s lifeless body and that the officer did not curse before pulling the trigger.
Read the full Associated Press article here: