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.
1. Seneca Chief of Police John Covington’s son, who also is a cop, “has pled guilty to stealing hydrocodone pills from a detention center and misconduct in office. He was placed on probation and sentenced to time served.” Hammond is dead.
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.”