Deputy sheriff shoots black homeowner after 911 call

Deputy sheriff shoots black homeowner calling for help in South Carolina

Photo by: AP
Photo by: AP

Updated Jul 28, 2015

South Carolina police are investigating a case where a white deputy sheriff shot a black homeowner while responding to a home invasion call.

The victim, Bryan Heyward, is in critical but stable condition on Friday as he suffered gunshot wound on his neck.

"We're as sorry as we can be," Charleston County Sheriff James Alton Cannon Jr said.

"What makes this even more of a tragedy for us is that someone in effect called us for help and we ended up being a part of him getting injured seriously."

Police have released the recordings of 911 call where the victim asked for help from the authorities.

“Someone is trying to break into my house. Please come. ... It’s an emergency and they have guns. Please come!” Heyward said according to recordings.

Two deputies, Keith Tyner and Richard Powell, arrived at the scene short time after the call and were told that shots were fired at the scene.

The deputies observed a broken window and a black man exiting a damaged back door with a gun in hand, Cannon said.

The Sheriff said deputy Tyner asked the man to drop the gun, fired twice and shot Heyward in the neck area, but he did not give any information about the time lapse between warning and shooting.

In a meeting with community leaders, police played recording of conversation between Heyward and an investigator on the way to hospital..

"The officer did it, but it was an accident," Heyward told the investigator, according to the recording, "I should have put the gun down, but I didn't."

Heyward was unable to speak and move his lower body, according to his family lawyer’s statement on Friday.

Family and representatives of the victim asked the police to release the recordings of the conversations between the deputies at the scene.

"Just as that tape was released today so quickly to try to justify the shooting, why can't those other audio tapes be released?" Heyward's cousin Rev. Charles White Jr said.

The lawyers claim recordings of the conversation from devices that deputies are carrying on them would reveal how much time passed between deputy Tyner’s warning to drop the gun and the shooting.

"We have no issue with officers protecting themselves and others when they have their lives endangered," family lawyer lawyer Chris Stewart said.

"But to not take the time to make sure you're not shooting the person that called you is a concern."

"In my opinion he was doing what he had a right to do in protecting himself from these individuals who were apparently attempting to get into the home," sheriff Cannon said speaking about Heyward having a gun in hand.

The sheriff avoided sharing his opinion whether deputy Tyner’s shooting is in violation of any rules.

On April 4, an unarmed black man Walter Scott was fatally shot by a white South Carolina police officer, reigniting debates and protests about excessive use of force by the police against minorities in the US.

Last week, there were major protests in Baltimore after death of a black man, Freddie Gray, who died one week after suffering spinal injuries while in police custody.

TRTWorld and agencies