A South Carolina state trooper was fired last week and arrested on Wednesday after a dashcam video showed him shooting an unarmed man during a routine traffic stop.
Former officer Sean Groubert, 31, is seen in the newly released video pulling over Levar Edward Jones. The clip, which was recorded on Groubert’s dashcam on Sept. 4, shows Jones getting out of his vehicle at a gas station in Columbia.
Groubert asks Jones for his driver’s license. As Jones reaches into his vehicle to retrieve it, Groubert shouts, “Get out of the car!”
When Jones complies and starts to back away from the vehicle, Groubert opens fire. Three shots can be heard; Jones was hit at least once, in the hip.
“I was just getting my license,” Jones says. He also apologizes repeatedly, and asks, “Sir, why was I shot? All I did was reach for my license. I’m coming from work.”
“Well, you dove head-first back into your car,” Groubert says. “Then you jumped back out, I’m telling you to get out of your car.”
Groubert was charged with assault and battery of a high and aggravated nature, a felony which carries a penalty of up to 20 years in prison, according to a news release from the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division.
The complaint states that Groubert “did without justification unlawfully shoot Levar Jones which produced great bodily injury or was likely to cause great bodily injury. Audio and visual recordings, as well as written statements, obtained are further evidence to indicate the shooting incident was without justification.”
South Carolina Department of Public Safety Director Leroy Smith called the case disturbing.
“After my review of the facts surrounding this matter, I have determined that Mr. Groubert’s actions rose to such an extent that his employment with us must be terminated,” Smith said in a statement last week. “While Mr. Groubert was within the law to stop Mr. Jones for a safety belt violation, the force administered in this case was unwarranted, inconsistent with how our troopers are trained, and clearly in violation of Department policies.”
Groubert pleaded not guilty and is free after posting a $75,000 bond, according to WIS-TV. He’s expected to appear in court on Oct. 24.
Jones was hospitalized for the hip injury, but has since been released. He told WIS that he hopes the incident will lead to change throughout the country.