Lawyer: Trooper almost took my client's life

NEW YORK, NY (WLTX) - The lawyer for an unarmed man shot by a South Carolina state trooper says his client is trying to come to grips which what happened.

Todd Rutherford spoke Friday morning on "CBS This Morning" on behalf of 35-year-old Levar Jones, the man wounded in the incident.

"He's still dealing with the effects of being shot by a trooper," Rutherford said.

On Sept. 4, 31-year-old Sean Groubert, who at the time was a member of the South Carolina Highway Patrol Patrol, shot Jones following a seat belt violation stop at a gas station on Broad River Road in Columbia. Jones was wounded in the hip.

The State Law Enforcement Division reviewed dash cam video of the incident and statements made by both men, and passed their findings on to the South Carolina Department of Public Safety and the Fifth Circuit Solicitor's Office. After looking at that report, SCDPS Director Leroy Smith fired Groubert for violating protocol and the solicitor's office charged him with assault and battery of a high and aggravated nature.

Previous Coverage: Video Release of Shooting | Why Was the Trooper Charged with Assault & Battery? | When Is OK for Troopers to Fire Their Weapon

Wednesday night, the dash cam video was made public. Since its release, the tape has been viewed worldwide, and has renewed debate about the proper use of force by law enforcement.

"It was disturbing," Rutherford said. "It was disturbing anytime you see a trooper pull somebody over for a seatbelt violation in a parking lot and end up shooting at them four times and hitting them once."

In the video, Groubert can be heard asking to see Jones license. As Jones reaches into his car, Groubert begins firing his service weapon, yelling "get out of the car, get out of the car."

After throwing his hands up and stumbling to the ground. Jones can be heard asking "what did I do sir?"

"I looked at this video and then I heard trooper Groubert's statement and that was the most disturbing part," Rutherford said. "Trooper Groubert in his statement said that Mr. Jones presented an aggressive manner that he came toward his patrol car in an aggressive manner, that he reached into Mr. Jones vehicle in an aggressive manner like he was pulling something out. None of that was indicated on the video, none of that was present on the video. What we actually saw was Mr. Jones reaching in, obeying all commands that the trooper had given him, which was to simply give him his ID."

During a bond hearing Wednesday night, Groubert's attorney, Barney Giese, said his client was justified in firing on Jones, and was not guilty of the charge being brought against him.

Statements from Groubert made as part of the investigation have not been made public. However, in announcing Groubert's firing, Director Smith said the ex-trooper "reacted to a perceived threat when there was none."

"I think that the video speaks for itself," Rutherford said. "Trooper Groubert overreacted, he almost took the life of my client, Mr. Jones, and he needs to pay for it. And the justice system hopefully will make him do so."

Calling him a "proud American," Rutherford says Jones is using a cane as he recovers from his injury. But he says his client's experience is indicative of other African-Americans' experiences with law enforcement.

"He is a representative of a class of African Americans throughout this country that fear the police, that are afraid when they get pulled over that they're going to be treated differently. He was treated differently."


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