Feds probe after SC troopers hit suspects with patrol cars
Federal authorities are looking into possible civil rights violations following the release of videos showing misconduct by South Carolina State Highway Patrol troopers.
The controversy began a month ago, when the South Carolina Legislative Black Caucus came forward with a video from 2004 in which a trooper told a suspect, ""You better run, n**, because I'm fixin' to kill you."
Now a freedom of information request has produced video from dashboard cameras showing two incidents in which troopers used their patrol cars to deliberately ram into suspects fleeing on foot. Both those suspects were also black.
In one video, a patrol car chases a man through the parking lot of an apartment complex, then follows him between buildings and across footpaths and lawns where children are playing before running into him.
In the other, a patrol car hits a suspect as he tries to cross in front of it on a back road. The man flips over the side of the car and then off the road. "Hey, I nailed the fuck out of him," the trooper proclaims. "He went flying up in the air. ... I was trying to hit him."
Both officers remained on duty. The one who boasted of deliberately hitting the suspect was given a three day suspension. The other officer, who admitted to poor judgment but said he hit the man accidentally, received only a reprimand.
Now the Criminal Section of the Department of Justice’s Civil Rights Division, the U.S. Attorney for South Carolina and the FBI are investigating the allegations of misconduct. The Legislative Black Caucus has expressed its satisfaction with the investigation, except for one member who complains that once the Department of Justice is involved "everything gets whitewashed."
This video is from CNN's American Morning, broadcast March 20, 2008.