Constable-involved shootings very rare in Florence County

FLORENCE, SC (WMBF) - According to 12th Circuit Solicitor Ed Clements, the state constable-involved shooting Saturday night is a rare and "unusual" case for Florence.

On Tuesday morning, officials announced that a news conference will be held at 1 p.m. Tuesday the Florence City Center to discuss the shooting, and release footage of the incident.

While there have been officer-involved shootings before in Florence, Clements said this is the first constable-involved shooting in the area he knows of.

City officials said late Saturday night the state constable was riding along with a Florence police officer when they pulled a driver over.

Clements said the incident escalated during the traffic stop, eventually leading the constable to shoot the driver.

"It escalated from there and they asked the gentleman to get out of the car and he wouldn't get out of the car and he was moving around." Clements said. "I don't know how many times he was hit. To my understanding, is that there were eight shots fired."

State constables, also known as reserve officers, are unpaid volunteers. They assist other law enforcement agencies in enforcing laws.

While state constables are regulated by the South Carolina State Law Enforcement Division, special agent Thom Berry with SLED said the constables with the Florence Police Department are under the department's authority.

"They assist with, like, crowd control and events. The constables will be out all working the Pecan Festival or something like that," Clements said.

Still, state constables have to go through the same officer and weapons training as any police officer. However, Clements said they have limited authority on what laws they can enforce and when they can enforce them.

"They cannot make an arrest or do anything like that unless they are working with a licensed officer," Clements said.

Berry said the state constable involved is an advanced group three constable, meaning he is an advanced volunteer with the Florence Police Department.

Currently, there are 120 volunteer constables and 13 advanced constables in Florence County.

Clements said SLED is currently reviewing the dam cash video frame by frame and getting information from any witnesses to the incident.

"They are presently out there making sure that there's no one out there that knows something that they haven't talked to," Clements said.

Berry said the constable involved is currently suspended from his position while under investigation.

As for the victim, Berry said he was expected to be released from the hospital Monday night.

Copyright 2018 WMBF News. All rights reserved.