Seneca Police Department hires PR firm instead of releasing dash cam video of Hammond shooting

On July 26th Lieutenant Mark Tiller of the Seneca (South Carolina) Police Department shot and killed 19-year-old Zachary Hammond in a Hardee’s parking lot. Tiller claimed that he shot Hammond in self-defense to prevent Hammond from driving into him with his vehicle. I wrote about the incident here.

The shooting happened after Hammond’s passenger and date, Tori Morton, sold a few grams of marijuana to an undercover cop. She was subsequently arrested and taken to jail. Tiller shot Hammond through the driver’s side window, which casts doubt on his claim that he reasonably believed that his life was in danger when he fired his gun.

According to Andrew Emett of the Free Thought Project,

Hammond’s autopsy revealed that the teen was shot in the back of his left shoulder and his side. According to witness statements, Hammond’s vehicle was not moving when Tiller shot him twice. In a letter from Hammond’s attorney to the FBI, a witness has recently come forward describing officers planting evidence under Hammond’s body and high-fiving his dead hand after the shooting. Although police found no weapon or drugs on Hammond, Chief Covington claims that a white powdery substance was found at the scene.

Instead of releasing a dash-cam video of the shooting, city officials have hired a PR firm to defend the police from public criticism.

What criticism, you ask? In addition to the troubling facts, here’s a couple of for-examples, provided by Emett.

These alleged acts of misconduct do not make it more or less likely that Lieutenant Tiller lied about the shooting, but the double standard evidenced by the favorable treatment accorded to Chief Covington’s son, the department’s apparent coverup of Tiller’s disciplinary file, and the decision to hire a PR firm instead of releasing the dashcam raise all sorts of questions that the Justice Department may find more than a wee bit “curious.”


9 Responses to Seneca Police Department hires PR firm instead of releasing dash cam video of Hammond shooting

  1. Malisha says:

    OK This one is truly peculiar: they killed a white kid over nothing, and used the same stupid “I was afraid for my life” excuse. It boggles the mind. Oh BTW if a bullet to the back does not indicate that a victim was running away, how can a bullet that enters a chest or face prove that a victim was “charging like a bull” or “bum-rushing”?

    My question is this: Who pays for the PR firm’s work? If the public pays for it, it should be OPEN TO THE PUBLIC and we should be entitled to see everything that passes between any cop and anybody working for the PR firm.

    • I believe the police department is paying the freight. I don’t know what account is being debited, but I believe payment information is discoverable by FOIA request. At least it should be, but I wouldn’t expect them to turn it over unless ordered to do so by a court, since they are circling the wagons and descending into a bunker mentality.

      They are consistently pushing the wrong buttons.

      • gblock says:

        OK, but since police departments are publicly funded, that means that the taxpayers are paying for it. Even if it doesn’t involve higher taxes, it means that they are not paying for something else with their taxpayer funds, so that they can pay for this.

        • By which account, I was referring to the money police departments get through civil forfeiture proceedings to obtain cash and property, both personal and real, that they auction off. Depending on the department, that can number in the hundreds of thousands of dollars.

    • so jaded says:

      PR firm cost $5,000 monthly paid for by the citizens. This shooting will b ruled justified because in America police are never punished.

  2. Here in St. Louis we are dealing with the death of two young black who were shot in the back by police in less than a year. One has been deemed justified despite numerous discrepancies and the other one is still “under investigation.” It too has numerous discrepancies, but the chief of police has proclaimed that a bullet to the back is not evidence that the young man was running away. Hammond’s death is another in a long line of questionable shootings.

  3. Seems like a case is way down the rabbit hole when a law enforcement agency hires a PR firm rather than deal with the sad truth. Only in ‘Merica.

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