Despite media and family requests, South Carolina is keeping under wraps the police dashcam videos that show the killing of a 19-year-old unarmed man last month. The video could also determine the truth of a claim by the family that police officers desecrated the victim’s body.
The South Carolina State Law Enforcement Division (SLED) last week rejected a media request for the Seneca Police Department video of the July 26th shooting of Zachary Hammond because the investigation is still active, and no arrests have been made. The importance of the video is made clear in a letter to U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch and FBI Director James Comey.
“… the officer who opened Zachary’s door and pulled his dead body from the vehicle then went ‘to the trunk of his police car and pulled (SIC) something out,” the letter quoted a witness to the shooting as saying. “The officer walked back over to the man on the ground rolled him over to his side, put something underneath his body, and then rolled him back.’”
The letter further states: “…a police officer with a neighboring police force has confirmed to SLED that the Seneca Police Department celebrated the killing of Zachary by desecrating his corpse. After Zachary had been shot and killed, member(s) of the Seneca Police Department lifted his dead hand and ‘high fived’ Zachary Hammond.”
Although the Justice Department has now opened a civil rights inquiry into the case, his family fears that because the victim was white, there will not be the kind of outcry that accompanied other police shootings.
“It’s sad, but I think the reason is, unfortunately, the media and our government officials have treated the death of an unarmed white teenager differently than they would have if this were a death of an unarmed black teen,” family attorney Eric Bland said.
“The hypocrisy that has been shown toward this is really disconcerting,” Bland added. “They’re called the civil rights organizations, they’re not called the black rights organizations. The color of his skin should not matter. White-on-white crime does not get the same impact as white-on-black crime.”
Hammond was shot twice inside his vehicle at a Hardee’s parking lot. His family-arranged autopsy showed he was shot in the back. The officer who fired the bullets has maintained he was acting in self-defense and said Hammond was accelerating toward him. Police have said a small amount of marijuana was found on a woman with whom Hammond was on a date at the time of the shooting.
This post originally appeared on Western Journalism – Equipping You With The Truth