Hollywood, SC– Dashcam footage captured the disturbing scene as Deputies Keith Tyner and Richard Powell of the Charleston County Sheriff’s Department arrived at the home of then 26-year-old Bryant Heyward, who had called 911 after he’d just been the victim of a home invasion. Heyward had fended off the two intruders who were threatening his home and his life, only to be critically shot and paralyzed by those who he had desperately called for help.
Now, the cops responsible for leaving an innocent man paralyzed for doing the right thing and calling them—will not be held responsible. The cop who shot the man in the neck—on video—was said to have “acted appropriately” by his superiors and will not be charged.
“We have concluded that Deputy (Keith) Tyner acted appropriately in response to an apparent deadly threat,” Senior Assistant Deputy Attorney General Heather Weiss said in a letter to state investigators last week, “and that there is insufficient evidence to merit criminal prosecution.”
As the Post and Courier reports,
A family attorney — Democratic state Rep. Justin Bamberg, said he was not surprised by the decision, particularly because criminal laws give police officers leeway in reacting to someone they reasonably perceive to be a threat, even if they are mistaken.
Tyner might have reacted differently had he and the dispatchers who initially handled the 911 call been better trained to handle such situations, Bamberg said.
“I cannot think of any situation where shooting an innocent homeowner who is scared to death is appropriate,” the attorney added. “If anything, this shines a light on a larger problem with law enforcement … overreacting.”
As TFTP reported at the time, on May 7, 2015, Heyward frantically called the police to report two men attempting to break into his home. After calling the police, he called his brother, who informed him that there was a gun in his bedroom. The suspects shot at Heyward twice, and he returned fire, nobody was harmed, but the intruders were successfully chased off.
“I didn’t want to shoot but I had to,” he said.
After arriving on the scene, the officers saw Heyward, who was still holding the weapon, and screamed: “show me your hands, show me your hands.” Immediately following the demand, without giving Heyward any time to respond, one of the officers began shooting at the innocent man- less than 2 seconds after initiating contact.
The bullet struck Heyward in his neck, rendering him a quadriplegic.
“Wrong guy, sir!” Heyward cried as he lay bleeding on the ground.
“I should have put the gun down but I didn’t,” Bryant Heyward reportedly told the detective inside the ambulance. “He thought I was the crook and shot.”
Tragically, this poor man blames himself for the actions of the trigger-happy police. An attorney hired by the family told reporters at the time that this is a show of his good character, and does not mean that the shooting was justified.
“To rely solely on someone’s untrained ears and eyes to evaluate the contents of the dash cam video, to include the time period to which this very complex sequence of events occurred, would be totally unfair and inappropriate to all parties involved,” read a statement from the department, downplaying the lunacy of the officer’s actions. “As you can imagine, a scene of this magnitude always tends to be very chaotic in its early stages, which is very common. To this day, I continue to pray for Bryant Heyward’s family as well as for our deputy. Now, it is time for us to allow the investigative process to run its course.”
To add to the controversy surrounding Heyward’s case, a pending lawsuit on behalf of Heyward alleges that police intentionally covered up the details of the shooting to minimize public backlash over shooting an innocent black man. According to the lawsuit, sheriff’s officials conspired to withhold certain details in Heyward’s case. Those include a report by the deputy that said Heyward had pointed the gun.
As the Post and Courier points out, amid a national inspection of police conduct, the account would have been hotly disputed at the time but it wasn’t released until last year.
Had Heyward stuck to warding these intruders off and not called 911 things may be very different right now, sadly. People often say, “if you don’t want to be killed by cops, don’t break the law,” yet they still find ways to attempt to rationalize and justify cases like these, which are not isolated incidents.
As TFTP previously reported, a woman successfully defended herself after her estranged husband broke into her mother’s home and attempted to kill her. When the police that her mother called arrived at the home, they shot her.
Before that, a mother of two called 911 to report intruders and the police showed up and killed her.
There was also the case of a black teen with white parents who was assaulted by police in his own home because they believed he was a robber.
A few months after the teen was assaulted, another man called 911 to report vandals in his home. The police showed up and killed him.