Zachary Hammond Killing: South Carolina Police Officer Fired A Year After Fatally Shooting Teenager

More than a year after Zachary Hammond, a 19-year-old teenager from South Carolina was shot dead by an officer from the Seneca Police Department, they have decided to fire the officer. Hammond was shot dead by the officer, later identified as Mark Tiller during a drug bust operation that went wrong. The news of Tiller being removed from service was announced by Seneca Police Chief John Covington who told NY Daily News that Mark Tiller would be nixed from the payroll on Friday. The chief, however, did not offer any reason for the firing and referred to the development as a “personnel” matter.

It is notable that Tiller had been on a paid leave for more than 13 months before he was taken off the rolls. This had led to further resentment among the family members of Hammond who believed that the taxpayer should not pay the salary of a man who was responsible for the death of their son. The fact Tiller was literally, on a paid vacation and the realization the that no charges would be filed against the officer came as a double whammy for the parents who later released a statement that read;

“As has been the case for the last year, the taxpayers of Seneca have paid and continue to pay Lt. Tiller’s salary. This defies logic. All lives matter, and it is an injustice to each and every American when an officer-related shooting is not handled with sensitivity and absolute transparency. Anarchy is not the answer.”

While they are now finally happy that officer Tiller has been fired, they are still miffed over the fact that it took them thirteen months to do so.

The incident dates back to July 27, 2015, when the officer pulled up to Hammond during an operation directed at busting a marijuana and cocaine deal. In the dashcam video of the incident, Tiller, who is not dressed in an officer’s uniform is seen approaching Zachary who is inside a car and ordering him to stop. Tiller, however, tries to escape and floors the pedal on the car. Seconds later, Tiller fires two shots at the window that reportedly hit Hammond, fatally injuring him. Following the incident, the police department was not forthcoming in revealing more details about the shooting. In fact, it took them more than three months since the incident to release the dashcam footage to the general public — leading to further outrage. In the video, Tiller is also heard saying that ” he (Hammond) tried to hit me” and later, “I’m gonna go call my PBA rep.” We have embedded the video of the much talked about incident below.

It was three months after the incident that Hammond’s dad Paul watched the video who vowed to continue his fight for justice for Zachary. The video, however, was not enough to file charges against Tiller. In fact, Chrissy Adams, the Judicial Circuit Solicitor in South Carolina, after reviewing the footage ruled that the state could not charge Tiller based on the video evidence. The ruling by Chrissy read;

“Zachary Hammond failed to comply with Lt Tiller’s orders and as a result he lost his life. When Hammond made the conscious decision to flee a lawful stop he set in motion this tragic chain of events.”

At the time if the incident, there was another woman inside the car, a woman identified as Tori Morton. Toni was not injured in the shootout but was arrested from the spot and was later charged with the possession of marijuana. All hope is however not lost for the family members of Hammond as the FBI, and the U.S. Department of Justice is also investigating the case.

[Image via Facebook/Justice For Zachary Hammond]

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