15th Circuit solicitor releases surveillance video of deadly trooper-involved shooting
HORRY COUNTY, S.C. (WMBF) – The surveillance video showing the struggle between a trooper and man that led to a deadly shooting in the Longs area has been released by the 15th Circuit Solicitor’s Office.
The State Law Enforcement Division is the lead agency investigating the deadly trooper-involved shooting that took place on Sept. 11 near McNeil Chapel Road.
SLED said Master Trooper W.B. Benton tried to pull over Tristan Vereen for an equipment violation. The solicitor believes the traffic stop was initiated due to a cracked windshiled.
Investigators said Vereen did not stop, there was a short chase and Vereen crashed his car in a residential yard.
Surveillance video from the home shows Vereen getting out of his car and running off while Benton chases him around the home and yard.
At one point, according to investigators, Benton used a Taser on Vereen. In the video, Vereen is seen on the ground and then there is a struggle between the two while Benton tries to arrest.
The solicitor’s office said, and it is also shown in the video, that the Taser is on the ground and Vereen grabbed the Taser and used it on the trooper’s neck.
Fifteenth Circuit Solicitor Jimmy Richardson said that’s when Benton fired his weapon once, hitting Vereen in the chest.
WMBF News is not showing that part of the video where Vereen is shot, but following the shooting, the video shows Vereen getting up and able to walk to the trooper’s patrol vehicle.
Vereen was taken to the hospital where he later died.
The surveillance video that has been released was also shown to the family on Friday.
“Generally, we would wait until the investigation is complete before releasing any information, however, a certain amount of misinformation was circulating in the community and this is our effort to alleviate any misinformation,” the solicitor’s office said.
The solicitor’s office has not received any other video from SLED in regards to the case. Richardson said that the trooper was not wearing a body camera during the incident. He explained that the South Carolina Highway Patrol has issued body cameras to some troopers but not all. Richardson added that the dashcam video from the trooper’s patrol vehicle doesn’t reveal anything because of where the struggle happened.
The attorney and family sent a statement in response to the video being released.
The attorney stated that a vehicle with a cracked windshield in the state of South Carolina is not a traffic violation according to state law. The statement went on to say that Vereen had the right to resist an unlawful arrest.
“If the stop is unlawful then the killing is unlawful. Mr. Vereen had the absolute right to resist the unlawful arrest of Trooper Benton. Unfortunately, we see time after time that the rights that have been afforded to us by the United States Constitution, are not afforded to people of color when it comes to their interaction(s) with law enforcement,” according to the Law Offices of Harry M. Daniels.
The SLED investigation in the case is still ongoing. It will release its findings to the 15th Circuit Solicitor’s Office where it will determine if charges will be filed against the trooper in the shooting.
WMBF News will continue to follow new developments in this case.
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