Lieutenant Mark Tiller, the Seneca, South Carolina deputy who shot and killed an unarmed teen in July, will not be charged with any crimes, MSN is reporting.
On July 26, Zachary Hammond was traveling with 23-year-old Toni Morton. The pair drove to a Hardee’s parking lot, where Morton had allegedly arranged to sell marijuana to an undercover officer. Hammond’s friends and family maintain that Hammond thought he was on a date with Morton and wasn’t aware of her plans to sell marijuana, according to Huffington Post.
— Glenn Smith (@glennsmith5) October 27, 2015
Dashcam video of the incident appears to show Lieutenant Tiller pull up behind Hammond’s vehicle as if to pin it in. As Tiller approaches the vehicle, Hammond appears to try to back it up and attempt to flee. Tiller then fired several shots into the vehicle, striking and killing Hammond instantly. You can watch the dashcam video below, but be warned: it contains content that may be disturbing to some viewers.
Morton was charged with simple marijuana possession and was not harmed in the incident.
In a lawsuit against Lieutenant Tiller, the Seneca Police Department, and police chief John Covington, filed by Hammond’s family, several other indignities against Hammond are alleged to have taken place that day.
- Tiller allegedly shouted “I’ll blow your f*****g head off!” at Hammond before firing into his car.
- Hammond’s body was left, out in the open and ravaged by ants, for about 90 minutes while police investigated.
- Another officer, identified as Anthony Moon (who has since resigned from the Seneca Police Department), posed with Hammond’s corpse and gave the corpse a “high-five.”
- Other officers either attempted to console Tiler or celebrated with him.
- Tiller was seen at one point returning to his squad car, removing “something from the vehicle that fit into the palm of his hand,” putting it on or near Hammond’s corpse, and then rolling the body back into its original position.
Tiller has insisted that he shot at Hammond because he “feared for his life” and believed that Hammond was trying to run over him with his (Hammond’s) vehicle.
On Tuesday, Tenth Circuit Solicitor Chrissy Adams announced that no criminal charges would be filed against Lieutenant Tiller.
“After careful consideration of the facts of the case, a thorough review of the state investigation, and an extensive review of all applicable law, I have determined that no criminal charges should be filed against Lieutenant Mark Tiller at the state level.”
A federal investigation against Tiller is ongoing, and Adams noted that she would not be releasing any information about the status of that investigation. South Carolina’s State Law Enforcement Division is expected to release certain videos and case files related to the incident this week following a Freedom of Information Act request by local media.
In a statement, Seneca City Administrator Greg Dietterick said he was “thankful” that no charges will be filed against Tiller.
“While the effects of outside agitators to tear apart our community lingers, we are thankful the investigation has come to an end and shows Lieutenant Tiller was acting in self-defense. The night of July 26 was a tragic event for this community and I personally will always grieve for the Hammond family. I thank Chief John Covington for his courage and strength during these trying times as he and his family have been repeatedly maligned. I thank our Mayor and City Council for standing with us during this tragedy. It is now time to start healing Seneca.”
Do you think Lieutenant Mark Tiller acted in self-defense or were his actions against Zachary Hammond a crime? Share your thoughts in the comments below.
[Image via YouTube]