Florence releases 'troubling' dash, body camera video of constable-involved shooting

Mayor Stephen Wukela with city council members hold a press conference on the constable involved shooting. (Source: WMBF News)
Mayor Stephen Wukela with city council members hold a press conference on the constable involved shooting. (Source: WMBF News)

FLORENCE, SC (WMBF) - Florence police and Florence city officials released body camera and dash camera video showing the traffic stop shooting of a driver Saturday night by a state constable riding with a Florence police officer.

The video appears to show the driver putting the car in reverse and driving away despite the officers being in the path of the vehicle. At that point, shots are fired.

Florence mayor Stephen Wukela described the video as "troubling," and said that it speaks for itself. He said that the Florence police officers involved followed protocol and will not face suspension or disciplinary action for their involvement. Florence Police Chief Allen Heidler confirmed the officers followed protocol, and while they are receiving counseling for the incident, they are not on leave.

"These are difficult situations that occurred and that difficulty should not be made worse by distrust by lack of communication," Wukela said.

State constables are unpaid volunteers that require the same officer and weapons training as a police officer. They assist other agencies with extra enforcement, but are not used for any independent law enforcement.

"There are certainly times when, particularly large festivals like that, when we need help," Wukela said. "We don't have all the manpower we would like to have to dedicate to those events and so the constables help us out."

Wukela said during a news conference Tuesday afternoon that the constable was riding along with the officer in order to maintain their state certification. The constable was identified by Wukela as Christopher Bachochin. Because the constable who was riding with the officer is a state constable, the State Law Enforcement Division is conducting the investigation into their conduct, Wukela said.

"It's a very common practice and in fact how you achieve that maintenance of your certification. That's why he was present at the scene," Wukela said.

South Carolina State representative Robert Williams was also at the press conference. He said with the current increase in gun violence nationwide, it's important to know what really happened.

"Law enforcement shooting citizens, certainly it brings a certain level of curiosity and alarm, so we just want to make sure our communities are safe. Our law enforcement are here to protect out community," Williams said.

Watch a Facebook Live stream of the full Florence news conference below:

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

12th Circuit Solicitor Ed 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."

Bachochin is currently suspended while SLED investigates.

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