You think you’ve heard this story before. A young, unarmed man is gunned down by police, black activists are outraged — the only difference with this scenario is that the young man is not black, he’s white.
Nineteen-year-old Zachary Hammond was on a date July 26 when he was fatally shot twice by a cop while at the back parking lot of a Hardee’s fast food restaurant in Seneca, SC, a city 40 miles from Greenville, near the North Carolina border, according to Eric Bland, the attorney representing the teen’s family.
The Seneca Police Department said the officer was conducting a drug investigation and shot Hammond in self-defense.
“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 to CNN affiliate WHNS.
A small amount of marijuana was found in the front passenger’s compartment in Hammond’s car.
“He was a 19-year-old, 121-pound kid killed basically for a joint, ” Bland said.
Tori Morton, who was on the date with Hammond, was arrested on charges of simple possession of marijuana. It was an amount, Bland stated, that did not warrant such excessive police force.
“This is about the utilization of overreaching deadly force in cases where it is not needed, ” Bland mentioned.
Covington stated the cop was trying to arrest Hammond when the teen accelerated the vehicle and drove toward the officer, forcing the officer to shoot in self-defense.
The Oconee County Coroner’s Office carried out an autopsy on Tuesday and verified that Hammond was shot twice and had wounds consistent with a. 45 caliber handgun that was utilized by the Seneca Police. Hammond suffered one gunshot wound to the collar bone-shoulder region and one wound to the chest, which was fatal, based on the report. The autopsy ruled that Hammond’s death was a homicide.
The report did not state if Hammond’s gunshot wounds were consistent with his vehicle moving at the time of the shooting.
Bland stated Hammond’s wounds reveal the vehicle was not moving, and the teen was shot on the rear of his shoulder and on the side of his chest. The Hammond family commissioned an independent autopsy, which discovered the teen’s gunshot wounds pointed out he was shot from behind and at close range.
Covington told WHNS the cop involved in the shooting, who has worked at the Seneca Police Department for more than 5 years, is on administrative leave. The police department is not releasing the name of the officer, citing safety concerns.
“We will not be releasing the officer’s name that was involved in the shooting and consider him a victim of attempted murder as we have previously stated several times, ” Covington said in a statement Friday.
Hammond’s death has not generated the same national outcry as the deaths of Michael Brown, Eric Garner and others. Black Lives Matter, an activist community that is working to end what it says is the systematic targeting of black people by police, has been sharing Hammond’s story on social media as another example of police brutality while also asking why Hammond’s death has not prompted outrage by other groups.
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