Prosecutor: Slain deputy a 'hero' for firing back
Video shows 'heroic' actions of officers who were ambushed by a suspect
By Jeffrey Collins
COLUMBIA, S.C. — A South Carolina deputy shot and killed while serving an eviction notice and two fellow officers did nothing wrong when a man suddenly pulled a gun and fired on them, a prosecutor said Thursday.
Both Sumter County Sheriff’s Cpl. Andrew Gillette and the tenant, 56-year-old Terry Hasty, were killed in the shootout at Hasty's mobile home Feb. 25, Solicitor Ernest “Chip” Finney III said at a news conference, adding that all three officers acted heroically after being ambushed.
Body camera video showed Gillette couldn't immediately get to his gun because he had his Taser in one hand and a court order in the other.
After he was wounded, Gillette fell to the ground, managed to get his gun from his holster and fired all 15 rounds toward the doorway, preventing Hasty from coming back outside after the suspect had reloaded his gun and fired at the other officers, Finney said.
“The death of Corporal Gillette was tragic and unnecessary," Finney said. "He was ambushed and yet he fought to cover for his colleagues and protect them from serious harm. For his bravery and the dedication that he showed, he will be remembered always as a hero.”
Hasty was wounded before reloading his gun, and lost consciousness before he could fire again, investigators said.
Finney cleared senior Cpl. Gary Beaver and the other officer, who he did not fully identify, of any charges in Hasty's death.
Body camera video showed Beaver telling Hasty a judge ordered him to leave the home and if he didn't, he would be arrested for trespassing. When Hasty refused, Gillette pulled out his Taser and Hasty could be seen on the video pulling his powerful .44 Magnum from his waistband, saying “put that gun down” several times and firing.
Hasty's “change in attitude” when he was told he was being arrested justified Gillette drawing his Taser, Finney said. Gillette did fire the Taser at Hasty, but it didn't fully shock him, the prosecutor said,
The investigation found the officers did everything right, according to Finney.
“Very professional. Explained the situation. Asked the man for a peaceful resolution. He just wouldn’t give it to them,” he said.
Individual frames from the body camera video showed Hasty pulling the gun and moments later the weapon poking out of the doorway, pointing at Gillette, who was wearing a bulletproof vest.
The eviction was the end of years of court battles between Hasty and the owner of the land on busy U.S. Highway 521 near Dalzell, about 40 miles (64 kilometers) east of Columbia, authorities said.
Gillette, 37, was a 12-year Air Force veteran before joining the sheriff's office in 2014. He left behind a wife and son.
“Over the last six years he had climbed up the ranks," Finney said. "He was well thought of. I knew him myself.”