A former South Carolina state trooper who shot and injured a motorist after pulling him over for a seat belt violation had his statement — which details the officer’s side of the story — released Tuesday.
The South Carolina Department of Safety released dash camera footage from officer Sean Groubert’s vehicle, which shows the state trooper following a white truck into a Columbia gas station the afternoon of Sept. 4. Levar Jones exited the vehicle and after being asked for his license reached into the cabin to retrieve it. Groubert then yelled for Jones to get out of the car fired four shots at him.
An unarmed Jones was stuck once in the hip and claims he was in compliance with Groubert the entire time.
“I just got my license. You said get my license,” Jones told Groubert.
The officer said he thought Jones leaped into his vehicle to grab a gun and contends his actions amount to self defense.
“He jumped out of the car. I saw something black in his hands. I ran to the other side of the car yelling at him, and he kept coming toward me. Apparently it was his wallet,” Groubert said.
Groubert then repeatedly told Jones to put his hands behind his back before handcuffing him.
Jones was taken to the hospital and handcuffed to a gurney until almost midnight because authorities forgot to release him, his attorney said.
After the incident, the state trooper was fired, charged with assault and battery and now faces up to 20 years in prison.
Groubert pleaded not guilty and said he was justified in his actions “because the trooper feared for his life and the safety of others,” his attorney said.
Joe McCulloch, a Columbia lawyer, said the state trooper could have had post-traumatic stress disorder prior to the shooting, The State reported.
“It’s a logical defense for what happened, and a reasonable one in some cases – but there has to be a valid basis,” McCulloch said.