On June 14th, a Greenville County Sheriff’s Deputy shot a “fiercely-patriotic” gun-owning homeowner in Simpsonville, South Carolina. For weeks, the department contended that the homeowner had jerked open his front door and pointed a handgun at the responding officer. But bodycam video that was just released shows a very different story.
The video shows a deputy approaching the home’s front door at midnight in response to a report of a panic alarm at the home. He shined a light inside the home through a window by the door.
The deputy saw a man inside — the homeowner — with a handgun. Of course, all the homeowner saw was an unexpected visitor outside his front door shining a bright light inside just before the officer opened fire.
The audio didn’t begin for the first 30 seconds of the footage because of that department’s bodycam programming.
Here’s the video:
On the night of the incident, the department’s public information officer Lt. Ryan Flood said this of the incident in a video interview to Fox Carolina:
…”The deputy was soon greeted by the homeowner who immediately jerked open the door, presented a handgun and pointed it directly at the deputy. At which time the deputy fired at least one shot, striking the occupant.”
Lt. Flood had a very different narrative of the events in a “community briefing” video the department published this week.
The homeowner, since identified as Dick Tench, has retained an attorney. Good for him.
The case doesn’t look good for the deputy or the department which for weeks continued the false narrative that the homeowner opened his front door and pointed a gun at the responding deputy.
From the Greenville News:
Bodycam footage contradicts Sheriff’s Office’s initial account of how deputy shot homeowner
Body camera video footage of a deputy shooting and injuring a Simpsonville homeowner in June contradicts the agency’s original account of the events leading up to the incident.
The video, captured by the Greenville County deputy involved in the June 14 shooting and released Monday morning, shows the deputy shot the man through the window of his house. Initially, the Sheriff’s Office said the man was shot after he opened the door and pointed his gun at the deputy. In the video, the man never opened his door.
“The Sheriff’s Office’s statement for weeks after the shooting was that my client opened his front door and aimed at a deputy and you can look at that body cam – that ends that version,” attorney Beattie Ashmore told The Greenville News Monday after the Sheriff’s Office released the clips of footage. “It’s difficult to explain how something like this could have happened.”
Ashmore is representing the homeowner, Dick Tench, who he described as a “fiercely-patriotic” citizen and concealed weapons permit holder from Simpsonville.
From studying the psycho-sensory effects of extreme stress – such as near-death experiences – I know that people’s recollection can be incorrect for a host of reasons. Time distortions (time slows for most), auditory exclusion (momentary loss of hearing), cognitive dissonance (remembering things out of order), tunnel vision, selective memory loss and other things happen. Stress impacts people differently and can result in radically different descriptions and perceptions of the same event.
Maybe this deputy’s recollection of the events was faulty. But watching that bodycam video, it’s pretty clear that the door did not come open until well after shots were fired into the home by the deputy.
Why the sheriff’s office continued with the faulty narrative for so long remains unknown. However, it will likely greatly increase any settlement Mr. Tench receives from the department.
As for the deputy, two parallel investigations continue, one with the South Carolina State Law Enforcement Division and another with the sheriff’s office.
I know a lot of gun owners and pretty much without exception, if you show up un-announced late at night, the person answering the door (not necessarily opening the door, but merely answering it) will have tooled up before doing so.
As such, we all risk being shot if seen through windows while holding a gun. So the moral of the story: Don’t allow visitors a clear line of sight into your home from the exterior.
One of the two or three times I’ve come close to shooting someone involved a dead-of-night surprise visit by a very large mentally-deranged man. And I was very glad I brought my gun with me to answer the door that fateful night. You can read about that incident and the aftermath here.