Zachary Hammond Police Shooting: Shocking New Details In Lawsuit By Family Of Slain Unarmed Teen
The slain body of Zachary Hammond, a 19-year-old South Carolina teen with no criminal record and who was unarmed when he was gunned down by a police officer on July 26, was left to lie on the ground for a full 90 minutes after he was killed — allowing swarms of ants to “ravage” his dead body, according to a lawsuit by the dead boy’s family filed in federal court on Monday.
The lawsuit reveals a series of shocking details, some of which had been reported in eyewitness statements in the weeks following the killing of Hammond in the parking lot of a Hardee’s fast food restaurant in Seneca, South Carolina. At about 8:30 in the evening that night in late July, a shooting resulted from a badly botched attempted marijuana “sting” arrest by the Seneca Police Department, according to a report in the Anderson, South Carolina, Independent Mail newspaper.
The lawsuit alleges that a Seneca police officer desecrated Hammond’s body by lifting up the dead boy’s limp arm and giving the corpse a “high five.”
The target of the horribly mishandled pot sting was Hammond’s date that evening, a 23-year-old he had never dated before that night, Tori Morton. The woman was arrested, allegedly with 10 grams of marijuana — but not before Seneca Police Lieutenant Mark Tiller fired two shots into Hammond’s 2002 Honda Civic, killing the skinny, 121-pound teenager.
Tiller and the Seneca police claimed that as they pulled in to the parking lot with cruiser lights flashing, Hammond accelerated straight at Tiller in an attempt to run the officer over, forcing the officer to fire two shots through the driver’s side window to defend his own life.
But an autopsy showed that Hammond was shot from behind, in the side and back.
According to the lawsuit, Tiller approached Hammond with his service weapon drawn and shouted, “I’ll blow your f*****g head off!” at the boy before shooting him.
The family’s lawsuit paints a haunting picture of a stunned and confused Hammond turning to stare at Tori Morton for a moment after the first shot struck him. After an apparent pause, Tiller fired again, killing Zachary Hammond with his second shot.
Morton has said that the car was not moving when Hammond was shot, and the lawsuit flatly denies that Hammond drive his car toward Tiller.
“Zachary took no action that could reasonably be perceived as threatening toward Lt. Tiller. Because the Seneca PD had the reckless and unsafe policy for its officers to come with guns drawn, Lt. Tiller escalated a routine drug stop into an officer involved shooting.”
According to an Associated Press account of the lawsuit’s allegations, as Zachary’s lifeless body was on the ground, Tiller went to his police cruiser, removed an unknown item from the trunk and placed it underneath Hammond’s slain corpse.
A bag of white powder which police said was cocaine was found on Hammond’s body — an allegation challenged by the family in the lawsuit, which also notes that even if Hammond was in possession of cocaine, merely possessing a small amount of drugs does not warrant death by police gunfire.
“At worst, and assuming that [the bag] was not placed on his person, Zachary was in simple possession of drugs,” the Hammond family suit reads. “For his offense, he was tried, convicted and executed by Lt. Mark Tiller, a misguided and improperly trained Seneca Police Department law enforcement officer.”
The suit also states that Zachary Hammond had no idea that Morton planned to sell marijuana on the evening of the fatal shooting by police and that as far as Zacahry was concerned, he and Morton were doing nothing more than sharing ice cream and burgers on a first date.
[Images: Justice For Zachary Hammond Facebook / Seneca Police Department]