Officer fired after high-speed chase ends in crash, threats, pro - WMBFNews.com, Myrtle Beach/Florence SC, Weather

Officer fired after high-speed chase ends in crash, threats, profanity

Dashcam video shows an Horry County police officer in Loris, on a February morning, going after a man believed to be driving a stolen vehicle and possibly involved with other armed robberies in the county. Dashcam video shows an Horry County police officer in Loris, on a February morning, going after a man believed to be driving a stolen vehicle and possibly involved with other armed robberies in the county.
And then, when the suspect runs away, the officer can be heard yelling: “You better run you [expletive], Woo, you're our guy [expletive]. I'm going to [expletive] kill your [expletive], Woo!!" And then, when the suspect runs away, the officer can be heard yelling: “You better run you [expletive], Woo, you're our guy [expletive]. I'm going to [expletive] kill your [expletive], Woo!!"
“Disappointed, disappointed that any employee of the Horry County Police department would do anything of that nature,” Chief Saundra Rhodes said about the video from the dashcam. “Disappointed, disappointed that any employee of the Horry County Police department would do anything of that nature,” Chief Saundra Rhodes said about the video from the dashcam.
The former officer says he apologizes for the profanity, but as for the threats, he says it was a combination of adrenaline and tactics. The former officer says he apologizes for the profanity, but as for the threats, he says it was a combination of adrenaline and tactics.
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LORIS, SC (WMBF) - From the North Charleston officer caught on video to police action in Ferguson, Tulsa, New York and now Baltimore, many law enforcement officers are under scrutiny these days. WMBF News is shining the spotlight on an Horry County Officer, fired after he chased a man who was later charged with murder.

WMBF News obtained video of the chase, first on the road and then on foot, along with that officer's perspective on what happened. A warning: some of the language in the chase is graphic.

Dashcam video shows an Horry County police officer in Loris, on a February morning, going after a man believed to be driving a stolen vehicle and possibly involved with other armed robberies in the county.

The chase hits speeds of around 115 miles per hour, and goes on for nearly 25 minutes, crossing lanes, before the driver makes a turn. And the officer follows, striking the car a few times.

And then, when the suspect runs away, the officer can be heard yelling: “You better run you [expletive], Woo, you're our guy [expletive]. I'm going to [expletive] kill your [expletive], Woo!!"

Police would catch the suspect, as the video shows the arrest. As the officer escorts the suspect, dash cameras capture video and sound.

The officer yells, “[Expletive] remember me last time? Nice, Dumb [expletive.] Now you're acting like [expletive]? Man what the [expletive] wrong with you dude?”

But afterward, this officer's behavior, called “loud, boisterous” and “profane” in a report on the incident, got the attention of Horry County Police Chief Saundra Rhodes.

“Disappointed, disappointed that any employee of the Horry County Police department would do anything of that nature,” Rhodes said about the video from the dashcam.

Rhodes said the officer was terminated. A disciplinary report mentions a violation of policy, which disallows bumping or ramming vehicles during a chase unless they're in pursuit of a known dangerous felon who, if allowed to escape, would create substantial risk to themselves or the public.

DIG DEEPER: View the Horry County Police Department's complete Rules of Conduct here

WMBF News anchor Michael Maely sat down with the former officer and asked him if he felt like that was the scenario.

"Absolutely, he was a known felon, from previous dealings, he was in a stolen vehicle and he was running," the former officer said. WMBF News tracked down the former Horry County officer, who wanted to remain anonymous, because of the ongoing investigation associated with the suspect.

According to police reports, that suspect would later be charged with murder along with two others in the Sunhouse convenience store robberies this year, which this officer remembers vividly.

“Some of us heard the shots, because of the robbery next door, it hit us hard,” said the former officer.

Horry County police say the suspect was not a known murder suspect at the time of the chase, but the former officer involved tells us those responding had tips suggesting it was a possibility. He says he's arrested the suspect in the past, and the suspect had resisted, as mentioned in police reports.

“I probably could have avoided hitting him, but I'd have gone into the ditch,” admitted the former officer. “[The suspect] is the one that chose to turn into a private driveway going into a field. I wasn't going to let him out of my sight."

“If we had sat there and just let [the suspect] come and go with the information at hand - he goes and kills somebody else, their blood was on our hands,” the former officer continued. “We weren't going to let that happen, no.”

The disciplinary report also documents the officer's use of profane language and threats, and suggests he asked other officers to shoot the suspect.

“It was the totality that gave me concern, the totality of all of those things put together that gave me concern,” said Horry County Police Chief Saundra Rhodes.

“There are times when we yell things to suspects, as part of tactics to put some fear in them to get them to give up,” the chief admitted.

The former officer says he apologizes for the profanity, but as for the threats, he says it was a combination of adrenaline and tactics.

“At this point, [the suspect] is ahead of me in a field in a foot chase, I'm going to start using psychological intimidation, if possible, it's my last chance,” the former officer said. “I'm going to start throwing things out there to hopefully make him stop.”

“When your adrenaline's pumping, you're human, you can only do so much, every officer's different,” he added.

Rhodes said the adrenaline associated with a chase is no excuse.

“Adrenaline rushes are almost a daily occurrence for most police officers and so no, that doesn't change my expectation, I still expect professionalism, because we are accustomed to adrenaline rushes,” she said.

The Horry County report states the officer was also recently counseled for a similar offense after the use of profanity during another traffic stop.

“It's easy to stand back and say, 'He should have done this or that,'" the former officer said. "Until you walk in a public safety officer's shoes, you should keep your mouth shut."

You can't see the tears in his eyes, but you may be able to hear the tremble in his voice, when he thinks about his last arrest with Horry County Police Department.

“We don't want any fame or recognition, we just, we do what we had to do, for the families,” he admitted.

While he's still upset he can no longer serve and protect, and says he never had a chance to explain his actions to superiors, he's hopeful that his termination may lead to more support for the hard-working officers who are fighting for justice every day.

“If it can improve the working environment for who is left in law enforcement and public safety, if it will raise awareness to help them and their families, I'll take the hit for it, I don't mind a bit,” the officer said.

Meanwhile, Chief Rhodes says she's confident the nearly 300 other employees are playing by the rules, partly thanks to some newer rules.

“Our officers are now trained in problem solving tactics versus just the regular policing tactics,” Rhodes said. “We've added psychological testing for all of our new employees and that wasn't based on this, this is something we started to do years ago, so we are making changes daily, to make sure we can provide the best, most capable officers that we can.”

An Horry County Police spokesperson says neither the tip about the suspect at the time of the chase, nor that suspect's history would justify the the use of such force.

Chief Rhodes urges anyone who observes any police activity they question, to report it.

As for the officer, after 11 years in law enforcement, he says he's now working in another career.

Copyright 2015 WMBF News. All rights reserved.

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