Levar Edward Jones was approached by State Trooper Sean Groubert on September 4 in Columbia, South Carolina, because according to the trooper, the 35-year-old Jones was not wearing his seat belt. But just moments after Jones stepped out of his vehicle, Groubert, 31, shot him.
Jones was unarmed and not suspected in any criminal activity — other than driving a car without a fastened seat belt. After Groubert asked him for his driver’s license, Jones reached back into his Dodge Durango to retrieve the license and that’s when Groubert opened fire, in the parking lot of a Circle K convenience store.
The entire incident was captured by a camera mounted on the trooper’s dashboard. The video, which was released shortly after the shooting and can be viewed above, shows that Groubert fired his service weapon four times in about five seconds.
Jones was hit by only one round, however, striking him in the hip area. He is reportedly still recovering from the wound in the seemingly unprovoked attack — one which led to Groubert being fired from his job and now facing charges of felony assault, which could land him a 20 year prison sentence.
“Why did you, why did you shoot me?” Jones is heard saying in the video, as he lies wounded on the ground.
“I just grabbed my license. You said to get my license.”
“Well, you dove headfirst back into your car,” Groubert replies.
“Then you jumped back out.”
But just one month after the shooting, Jones signed an agreement with the state of South Carolina, accepting a settlement of $285,000 in exchange for dropping any lawsuits related to the shooting.
In fact, no matter what had happened to Jones, he could not have received much more than that. South Carolina law caps damages against state employee at $300,000, regardless of their offense — a law that critics say is unfair to victims of serious abuses, such as Levar Jones.
“It’s a great instance to highlight those caps effect the most serious cases. They don’t effect the frivolous cases because nobody gets this kind of money in frivolous cases,” said legal expert Robert Rikard.
“They affect the serious cases where someone really is hurt or harmed really badly, but they’re limited to what the legislature says is a damages cap and you can never get above that.”
Even if Jones incurs more than $300,000 in medical costs from the shooting, he will have to cover those expenses himself, somehow.
In the video, seconds after he is shot by Groubert, Jones tells the trooper that he cannot feel his legs. But no further update on Jones’ condition has been made public.
The settlement in the Levar Jones shooting became public only this week, three months after it was signed, reportedly because the payments have only now been completed.