Officials in South Carolina released a police car dashcam video on Sept. 24 depicting former South Carolina Highway Patrol Trooper Sean Groubert, 31, shooting an unarmed man as the man, 35-year-old Levar Jones, was reaching for his wallet. The shooting took place on Sept. 4 outside of Columbia, South Carolina, in a gas station parking lot after Groubert stopped Jones and asked for his driver’s license, according to CNN.
In a quote now permanently etched into the American consciousness, Jones, who survived the shooting, turned to Groubert and asked “Why did you shoot me?” USA Today reported the findings of a warrant against Groubert that determined the officer’s shooting was unjustified.
The former trooper was arrested, booked into the Richland County Detention Center and charged with felony assault and battery of a high and aggravated nature. If found guilty of those charges, Groubert could be looking at 20 years behind bars.
In that Sept. 4 shooting, Groubert stopped Jones for an alleged seat belt violation. After Jones exited his vehicle, Groubert asked him to produce his driver’s license. The dashcam video then shows Jones leaning back into his vehicle “as if to retrieve something.”
The video then shows Groubert with his gun drawn and yelling “Get out of the car! Get out of the car!” Groubert fired four shots at Jones, with one of those bullets finding Jones’ hip. Jones was able to step away from his vehicle and put his arms up in the air. Transcript excerpts from the dashcam video appear below.
“I just got my license! You said get my license!” says someone off camera, apparently Jones.
After being told to put his hands behind his back, Jones asks: “What did I do, sir?”
“Are you hit?” asks another off-camera voice, apparently Groubert’s.
“I think so,” comes the response. “I can’t feel my leg. I don’t know what happened.”
“Why did you shoot me?”
“Well, you dove head-first back into your car. Then you (unintelligible), I’m telling you get out of your car.”
Jones was transported to a local hospital for the bullet wound to his hip and then later released. He was determined to have been unarmed when he got shot.
The officer has since been terminated from his position with the highway patrol. Announcing Groubert’s termination from the force, South Carolina Public Safety Director Leroy Smith said “The force administered in this case was unwarranted, inconsistent with how our troopers are trained, and clearly in violation of department policies.”