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South Carolina Trooper Charged With Shooting an Unarmed Man

Posted on: September 26th, 2014 by Chicago Police Misconduct Attorney

In Columbia, South Carolina, a state trooper has just been fired and is now facing a felony charge for shooting an unarmed man when he pulled him over for not wearing a seatbelt at a convenience store.

The former trooper, Sean Groubert, 31, pulled over Lavar Jones, 35, and Groubert is being charged with assault and battery of a high and aggravated nature.  If convicted, Groubert could face up to 20 years in prison.

The authorities said that Groubert pulled Jones over on September 4because of a seatbelt violation.  Jones stepped out of his vehicle and once he was asked for his license, he turned and reached back into his car and apparently did not exhibit any signs of aggressive behavior.

As Jones was reaching back into his vehicle, Groubert shouted for Jones to “get out of the car,” and he shot Jones as he was still reaching into his car.  One bullet hit Jones in his hip and he yelled out, “What did I do?  You said get my license.  I grabbed my license.”

Groubert holstered his gun and ordered Jones to put his hands behind his back.  He then called for an ambulance and also called for other officers.  Groubert says that he shot Jones because he was reaching back into his car.

Currently, Jones is at now and is still recovering after he was hospitalized for the gunshot wound.  On September 19, Groubert was fired by the South Carolina Department of Public Safety.  He was fired after they watched a video of the incident and reviewed a report from the State law Enforcement Division.

Groubert was booked at the Richland County Detention Center.

Director Leroy Smith said, “”Mr. Groubert’s actions rose to such an extent that his employment with us must be terminated….The facts of this case are disturbing to me, but I believe this case was an isolated incident in which Mr. Groubert reacted to a perceived threat where there was none.”

On Wednesday, charges were filed by prosecutors in Richland County, S.C., and an arrest warrant was issued charging Groubert with assault and battery of a high and aggravated nature.  The charges state that Groubert shot Jones “without justification,” and both audio and video recordings are being utilized as evidence.

Groubert has been released on a $75,000 bond and Groubert’s attorney, former Fifth Circuit Solicitor Barney Geise, says his client is not guilty.