Charleston County Sheriff’s deputies responded to a home in Hollywood, South Carolina at 11:02 a.m. on Thursday, for a possible home invasion. Per a statement from the Sheriff’s Office, the deputies arrived on scene and noted two blacks males exiting the home and fleeing toward the backyard on bicycles.
“Our deputies proceeded to the rear of the home and were confronted by an armed subject exiting or standing at the back door of the residence,” the sheriff’s statement read. “Our deputies challenged the subject and ordered him to drop his weapon, which he didn’t at the time. As a result, one of our deputies fired his service weapon striking the subject once in the neck area.” Police said the subject who was shot is a homeowner or resides at the property.
The subject involved in the shooting was a black homeowner, according to the ABC affiliate WCIV reports, was then immediately transported to the Medical University of South Carolina – Charleston, for life-threatening injuries received in the shooting.
The police statement continued with; “According to the victim, gun fire was exchanged between him and the suspects during the home invasion. However, it is unknown if the subject sustained any injuries before he was confronted by our deputies,”
In the 911 transcripts, made public by police on Thursday night, reveals the victim telling dispatchers that two guys with guns were trying to break into his home, banging on windows and such. Later in the recording you can hear him pleading with the dispatcher for the police to hurry.
The local authorities are moving quickly, in an attempt to calm tensions over the situation that occurred in the same county as the April 4th police shooting of Walter Scott, an unarmed black man.
“We’re as sorry as we can be,” Charleston County Sheriff James Alton Cannon Jr. said in a Friday meeting with community leaders. “What makes this even more of a tragedy for us is that someone in effect called us for help and we ended up being a part of him getting injured seriously,”
The victim, Bryan Heyward, called 911 around 11 a.m. Thursday, claiming that armed men were attempting to enter his mother’s home. As the victim stepped out his backdoor holding a .40-caliber handgun, a deputy immediately asked him to “drop it”. When Heyward didn’t immediately comply with the request, the deputy fired twice, hitting him in the neck with a single round.
It has not been made clear exactly how much time elapsed between warning and shot, but in a 20-minute taped interview made during the ride to the hospital between the victim and an investigator relays Heywards understanding of what happened.
“The officer did it, but it was an accident,” Heyward told the investigator, according to the recording, adding, “I should have put the gun down, but I didn’t.” He also went on the say that he had exchanged gunfire with the fleeing suspects.
We are already seeing some representatives for the Heyward family speaking up, stating that deputies were wearing microphones on scene, yet stated those recordings have not been made public.
“Just as that tape was released today so quickly to try to justify the shooting, why can’t those other audio tapes be released?” said the Rev. Charles White Jr., a field director of the National Action Network. “Those recordings could reveal how long Tyner waited before shooting Heyward.”
Whether or not this was purely an “accidental” shooting gone astray or someone is found at blame, the current climate in our country regarding the “excessive use of force” directed at the black community by law enforcement, real or imagined, could shed a dark shadow over the Charleston area.