HORRY COUNTY, S.C. (WBTW) — Officials held a news conference Thursday to give an update on Saturday’s officer-involved shooting in Horry County.
This comes hours after friends and family of Tristan Vereen, who was killed in the shooting after fleeing a traffic stop in the area of Highway 905 and Highway 22, held a news conference calling for justice and transparency.
15th Circuit Solicitor Jimmy Richardson said the trooper tased Vereen, and then when they were on the ground, Vereen allegedly took the taser and used it on the trooper. Vereen also allegedly bit the officer. After Vereen tased the trooper, he was shot once in the chest, according to Richardson.
“You’ll see where the prongs of the officer’s taser were used in his neck,” Richardson said. “There’s at least five, you may count more, but all across his neck where the officer was hit with his taser and that was done before Tristan was shot.”
There was no body cam, but there was dashcam and surveillance footage. The video has not been released to the public or viewed by News13. Video was shown to the family. Richardson said the trooper did have audio recording on his belt clip.
The solicitor’s office did release a few photos of the officer’s injuries.
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Vereen allegedly said “I’m not going back to jail” to which the trooper said he wasn’t going back to jail and to just pull over, according to Richardson.
Richardson was asked about claims made by family members that Vereen was handcuffed after he was shot and then dragged.
“Tristan walked towards the back of the car and the cop walked on behind him and I don’t doubt for a second that he wasn’t handcuffed at that point but he wasn’t dragged anywhere,” Richardson said.
While the family acknowledged the transparency from the solicitor’s office, they still believe he was murdered. Elder James Johnson, the national president with the Racial Justice Network said four kids are now left without a father and no one should die because of a cracked windshield.
“After watching that video, I believe he was murdered,” Johnson said.
Steve Schmutz, the attorney for the Vereen family said he hopes officials do the right thing with the case.
“It’s a bit unusual for the solicitor’s office and SLED to share information with us this quickly, and I’m going to take that as they are going to do the right thing throughout this case,” he said.
Vereen’s dad said Tristan died because he was Black.
“Everybody’s talking about a broken windshield. He died because of who he was, the color he was,” he said. “Once they look at you, that’s it.”
Richardson said he will release the video to the public, but can’t do that until investigators are finished collecting interviews for the case.