A South Carolina police officer who shot and killed a 19-year-old during a bungled drug sting will face no charges, a local prosecutor said Tuesday.
Dashcam video of the shooting, which took place on July 26, was also released Tuesday. It shows Seneca, S.C., officer Mark Tiller running up to teen Zach Hammond's car and then firing into the driver's seat window as Hammond pulled away.
Solicitor Chrissy Adams said in a letter to the state Law Enforcement Division that she not filing charges in the case.
“The video viewed at full speed, standing alone, is troublesome. However, when the video and the totality of the investigation is evaluated and the laws of our State are applied, it is clear that Lt. Tiller broke no State laws," she says. "The only conclusion that can be rendered is that deadly force was justified.”
According to Adams, two officers were running an undercover drug sting on Hammond in the parking lot of a local Hardee's that day; they got worried when Hammond pulled his car next to theirs and called for backup. In the dascham video released today, Tiller can be seen driving into the parking lot in his squad car, getting out, and approaching Hammond's car with his gun drawn. Tiller then ordered Hammond to stop and show his hands. Hammond, who was under the influence of cocaine at the time, according to a toxicology report, drove forward instead.
"Tiller was forced to decide whether or not to fire his weapon in less than three seconds," Adams wrote, noting that Tiller thought he was going to get run over. "The law prohibits viewing Lt. Tiller's decision to use force from the perspective of a 'Monday morning quarterback.'"
However, from the video, it appears that the car was already passing by Tiller when he fired the shots, which hit the teen in the side and the back. "He tried to hit me," the officer yells from out of the video frame after he fired the shots.
Hammond's parents said they were disappointed by the decision.
"There are a lot of questions and very sorry police work, very sorry police work," Zachary's father, Paul Hammond, told local news station WYFF4." That is not the way things should be handled. My son lost his life and he should not have." The family has filed a lawsuit against the Seneca Police department and Tiller.
A separate investigation by the U.S. Justice Department is ongoing.
Casey Tolan is a National News Reporter for Fusion based in New York City.