NEWS

South Carolina police video captures shooting of unarmed driver

09/25/2014 01:21 EDT | Updated 11/25/2014 05:59 EST
An unarmed man who was shot by a South Carolina state trooper after being stopped for an alleged seatbelt violation survived the incident, but he and prosecutors are still trying to figure out why the officer fired.

The shooting took place in daylight on Sept. 4 at a Circle K gas station near Columbia, S.C.

Captured on a police dashboard video camera, Levar Jones, 35, can be seen standing beside his vehicle with the driver's door open, then leaning back in when ordered to produce a driver's licence.

When he emerges, the officer opens fire, which wounded Jones in the hip, according to media reports.

"Why did you… why did you shoot me?" Jones can be heard asking.

"Well, you dove head-first back into your car," the officer replies.

Trooper Sean Groubert, 31, who was fired last week because of the incident, has been charged with aggravated assault and battery, a felony punishable by up to 20 years in prison, CNN reported, citing the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division.

Jones is recovering from his wounds. Groubert had bail set at $75,000.

Groubert's lawyer said the officer justifiably feared for his life, but prosecutors disagreed.

"The force administered in this case was unwarranted, inconsistent with how our troopers are trained, and clearly in violation of department policies," CNN quoted public safety director Leroy Smith as saying when he announced Groubert's firing last week.

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