Florence, SC -- A constable in Florence, South Carolina fired as many as eight shots at a suspect as he attempted to flee a traffic stop despite being in no danger. Though body camera footage captured the entire ordeal on video, the cop was cleared of any wrongdoing so now, as usual, the taxpayers will go to bat for his actions.
State Constable Christopher Bachochin and Florence police officer Edward Seiben stopped the suspect, later identified as Brandon Fludd, at 11:10pm on Saturday night, March 24, 2018. After asking for his information, the officers asked Fludd to step out of the car, because they claimed they could smell marijuana.
Fludd refused, took a drag of a cigarette, and reversed his car into a parked police cruiser, before driving away. As Fludd tried to make his escape, Bachochin — who was on a ride along with the officer — can be seen stepping back from the car and firing up to eight shots at the vehicle.
“That (expletive) about ran me over,” the constable said in the video. The video does not show the car making contact with Bachochin at all.
Fludd was later found wounded and taken to a nearby hospital. No weapon was found in his car after the incident.
While it can typically take months or years for police shooting videos to be released, Florence Mayor Stephen Wukela pushed for the early release of the footage in an effort to be as transparent as possible. Wukela told local news that “The whole incident is troubling,” adding: “We have confidence that State Law Enforcement Division will investigate this matter and treat it fully and fairly."
That full and fair investigation clearly favored the constable who got off Scot free after attempting to murder a man for driving away.
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As a constable, Bachochin is a volunteer officer, and receives only a fraction of the training of a full-time police officer. State constables lack the power of arrest unless accompanied by an officer from a law enforcement agency.
At the time of the shooting, Bachochin was patrolling with Seiben to keep his certification up to date. Highlighting the fact that Bachochin's force was excessive is the fact that no other officer at the scene fired their weapon.
Showing the entire unnecessary nature of the stop, Fludd was charged with simple misdemeanors accusing him of failing to stop for blue lights and malicious injury to personal property, along with a ticket for driving on the wrong side of the road, according to the Post and Courier.
Fludd's lawsuit alleges that he was struck in the chest, shoulder, knee and forearm and has incurred more than $100,000 in monetary damages which include medical care and other costs — for minor traffic offenses.
Fludd is represented by Justin Bamberg of the Orangeburg-based Bamberg Legal. Bamberg filed suit in state court in Florence County alleging gross negligence and violation of Fludd's civil rights.
Bamberg provided the following statement regarding the lawsuit:
"We've maintained from the beginning that it is a bad idea to have individuals who are not qualified to make split-second, life-or-death decisions in a position to harm the general public. Mr. Bachochin is a pharmacist who was interested in 'playing cop.' We filed this claim to ensure the safety of South Carolina residents and that only well-trained and qualified members of law enforcement are policing our streets and making the incredibly difficult decisions to fire their weapons."
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