South Carolina officer shoots, kills unarmed teen during pot bust

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SENECA, S.C. — Blue lights from police cruisers lit up the area near Hardee’s fast food restaurant on Highway 123 in Seneca on Sunday night.

Investigators said a Seneca police officer shot and killed 19-year-old Zachary Hammond.

“He was a uniformed officer, he was in a marked vehicle, was out of his vehicle on foot approaching the suspect vehicle – weapon drawn given it was a narcotics type violation,” Seneca Police Chief John Covington said.

On Monday, Covington said he couldn’t say much about the shooting because agents with the S.C. Law Enforcement Division have taken over the case. However, Covington did say the incident stemmed from an undercover drug investigation.

Covington said the officer attempted to arrest Hammond when Hammond accelerated the car and drove toward the officer.

“He fired two shots in self-defense,” Covington said of the officer.

Hammond’s family wants answers. They want to know if there are any witnesses or others who may have information about the case.

Seneca police arrested Tori Morton, a passenger in the car, and charged her with simple possession of marijuana.

“It’s a horrible situation,” Covington said.

He said officers are placed in a “predicament” in which they have to use deadly force.

Covington said the officer who fatally shot Hammond is hurting, too.

“We ended up with a very horrible ending to his and our heart does go out to his family,” Covington said.

Covington said Monday he would not release the officer’s name, but did say he’s on administrative leave.

He said the officer has worked at the Seneca Police Department for more than five years and has prior law enforcement experience.

Source: WHNS