Another shooting at the hands of law enforcement officers leaves another teenager dead. On Sunday night in Columbia, South Carolina, a teenager was shot and killed during an undercover sting operation.
Zachary Hammond, 19, was killed after being shot through an open car window by an officer involved in the sting operation. The operation was set up by a police officer and an undercover agent. The intention was to set people up for selling marijuana, which in many other states, is a legal act.
Police Chief John Covington said that the officer “fired two shots in self-defense” as the victim “drove his vehicle directly at the officer”. Covington said that the car was direct towards the officer, so the officer fired shots through the driver’s side window to prevent the car from hitting him.
The reactions to this tragedy are mixed, with many wondering why rather than getting out of the way of the vehicle and letting the car get away with a bag of marijuana, the officer chose to shoot and kill the driver.
The Post and Courier reports that tragically, “one in four police shootings in South Carolina involve cops firing at or into vehicles”.
At this point in the investagation, it is unclear if there is video footage of the event. Dashcam footage from the shooting has been handed over to investigators. While the investigation continues, the officer involved is on adminstrative leave.
Hammond’s parents have hired an attorney. They suspect that their son didn’t intentionally target the officer but rather was frightened and trying to flee. The victim’s dad told media “I don’t think you use excessive force for somebody in a Honda Civic that they thought he had pot”. Hammond’s mother added “we are obviously grieving the loss of our son. This is a most difficult time and the facts as we have been told and (were) reported are in conflict. We are conducting our own investigation as to the circumstances of this tragic and unnecessary death.”
Hammond was a recent graduate of Seneca High School in 2014. He had a passion for history and was an active athlete. He had no criminal record.