A 19-year-old was on a first date when he was shot dead by a police officer in South Carolina.
Zachary Hammond was fatally shot twice in the car park of a fast food restaurant in Seneca after an altercation with an officer – however, the official police report never mentioned the two gunshots that killed him.
Seneca police say a second report details the officer’s account of the shooting – but this has not yet been released to the public.
The incident happened following a drug’s bust set up by undercover agents. Tori Morton, Zachary’s date, was arrested and charged with possession of 10 grams of marijuana.
According to the Seneca Police Department, the officer in question was conducting a drug investigation, and shot Hammond in self-defence:
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.
Officials say Hammond accidentally drove his car towards a police officer in an attempt to evade a stop, and because the car was coming at an angle, shots entered the driver’s side window.
However, Zachary’s parents, Paul and Angie Hammond, say that they don’t believe deadly force was necessary, and their attorneys, Eric Bland and Ronald L. Richter, characterised the police account of events as “deceptive.”
Furthermore, an independent autopsy report indicated that the teen was shot from behind and at close range. The police department are refusing to release the name of the officer for ‘safety reasons’.
Following the incident, there has been outrage on social media, with many people claiming that the story isn’t getting the same attention as the deaths of Michael Brown and Eric Garner, among others.
— Marquita (@MarqRobinson) August 6, 2015
The majority of folks speaking up for #ZacharyHammond are black people. Imagine that.
— X (@XLNB) August 4, 2015
— Dwight Mann (@Joe_Schmucc) August 6, 2015
Eric Bland says race is ‘almost certainly playing a role in the disconcerting silence’, however, Meredith Clark, an assistant professor at the Mayborn School of Journalism claims that the lack of national outrage is only due to a lack of video and history of brutality complaints with the Seneca police department.
But time will tell, as a spokeswoman for the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division confirmed there is dashcam video of the incident, but would not say when it would be released.