.....Advertisement.....
.....Advertisement.....

"Shots fired. Subject is down."

-A A +A

Dashcam videos support law enforcement version of fatal February shooting

By Travis Jenkins

A February incident in which a man who stole a car from a Richburg motel was killed by law enforcement officers appears to have unfolded exactly as officials initially described.

Previous
Play
Next

On the night of Tuesday, Feb. 27, Dustin James Case, 20, of Travelers Rest allegedly stole a vehicle from the Richburg Super 8. He was quickly spotted and followed by a Chester County Sheriff’s deputy. At a press conference the following day, Chester County Sheriff Alex Underwood detailed what happened from that point on.

“At approximately 10:15 p.m., an individual was checking into a hotel along the interstate. While he was checking into the hotel, another subject got in his vehicle, reported as a 2015 Ford Fusion, stole the vehicle and proceeded to leave out of the hotel parking lot. 911 was notified that the vehicle was stolen and patrol deputies in the area spotted the vehicle on S.C. Highway 9 coming towards Chester and initiated a traffic stop. At that time the (suspect) started to evade the police by going at a high rate of speed and refusing to stop. The chase came into the City of Chester around the JA Cochran Bypass. A city police officer got into the chase, also trying to stop this individual. The individual made a right turn on the bypass, went down to the next red light and made a left on Saluda Street, coming back in towards the city limits. At that time, the individual was crossing the railroad track and lost control of his vehicle and was spinning around in the highway. The Sheriff’s Office vehicle and the city vehicle closed in on the suspect in the car, they got out to approach the suspect and the individual pulled a handgun up and pointed it at the officer. “The officers engaged with gunfire and the subject was killed,” Underwood recounted. He said “several pounds” of drugs were found in the vehicle (later identified as meth), as well as a quantity of money, along with a handgun.

Shortly after the incident, The News & Reporter filed a Freedom of Information Act request to obtain copies of dashcam videos from the involved law enforcement vehicles. On Monday, the State Law Enforcement Division provided The News & Reporter with three videos. One came from a city police car that did not appear to have been involved in the chase. The video, which ran for more than an hour, appears to start well after the shooting and largely only shows other parked law enforcement vehicles with their blue lights flashing. Back-up was needed to secure the area, block off traffic and keep the public away from the crime scene. A second city video came from the vehicle that joined the chase once it turned onto the bypass. It does show the Ford Focus speeding down the bypass, turning onto Saluda and spinning out of control after crossing a set of railroad tracks. The city vehicle came to a stop near the Ford Focus in a position that would have cut off any attempt by the subject to escape. It does not give a view of the shooting, though it does provide audio of the brief confrontation and gunshots. The remainder of the video (which runs for nearly two hours) shows officers walking back-and-forth occasionally and does show an abundance of traffic and onlookers in the distance.

The video from the sheriff’s department vehicle captures the entire event, from the time the Ford Focus was spotted on S.C. Highway 9 until well after the shooting. Four minutes and six seconds elapsed from the time the deputy first turned on his blue lights to initiate a traffic stop until Case was shot.

At the outset of the video, the deputy follows the subject at a distance for 31 seconds. He then turns on his blue lights and radios that he has located the stolen vehicle. The following is The News & Reporter’s recounting of the chase, with the time codes on the video since the activation of the deputy’s blue light:

0:26- Deputy radios in that the car will not stop and has its emergency blinkers on.

1:07- Deputy radios in that the subject appears to have a flat right, rear tire.

1:22- Deputy: “I’m coming up on McCandless Road.”

1:27- The Ford Focus slows down and begins to pull over to the side of the road.

1:36- The subject suddenly accelerates and pulls from the far right side of the road into the left hand lane.

1:50- The subject swerves into the median and accelerates to more than 100 miles-per-hour. A digital readout on the dashcam shows that the deputy’s speed reached 106 miles-per-hour. Smoke appears to be coming from the rear of the subject vehicle. Even when the subject returns to his lane, he continues to swerve wildly.

2:13- Deputy: “He’s passing York Tech.”

2:26- Deputy: “He’s coming up on the intersection.” At this point, a city police vehicle turns around on a side road and drives toward the intersection of S.C. Highway 9 and the J.A. Cochran Bypass. That officer comes to a stop in the intersection.

2:38- Deputy “He’s turning right on the bypass.” The subject avoids the city vehicle, turns right onto the bypass and accelerates.

2:53- The subject reaches a speed of 95 miles-per-hour. One (or both) of the law enforcement vehicles giving chase turn on their sirens. With one of the law enforcement vehicles gaining on and nearing the subject vehicle, he pulls into the median, then into the left-hand lane towards oncoming traffic and accelerates again. Headlights coming from the other direction become visible, indicating cars are coming. The subject then swerves back into his lane.

3:14- The subject vehicle hits the railroad tracks near the intersection of the bypass and Saluda Road at a high rate of speed. The Ford Focus appears to briefly leave the ground, but does not wreck. The right rear tire that had been described earlier as being flat appears to come off the vehicle entirely.

3:20- The subject comes to the intersection of the bypass and Saluda. He is in the center lane and the light is red.

3:26- Deputy: “He’s making a left, going into town.”

3:28- The subject hits the curb but pulls back into his lane and proceeds toward the city. In the brief distance between the intersection and the railroad tracks, even with a tire missing, the subject reaches a speed of 67 miles-per-hour.

3:45- The subject appears to briefly pump his breaks. The deputy, following close behind, managed to veer left quickly to avoid “a 10-50,” which is police code for an accident.

3:48- The subject reaches the railroad tracks on Saluda. It is unclear whether it was a voluntary attempt to drive off the road or a result of high speed and a missing tire, but the car appears to turn sharply to the right as it crosses the railroad tracks.

3:49: The subject loses control of the Ford Focus.

3:52- After having veered right on the railroad tracks, the subject car turns sharply to the left and skids sideways before coming to a stop directly in front of the railroad crossing sign. The vehicle is facing back towards the bypass.

3:53- Deputy notes that the subject is “10-50.”

3:58- The city officer has stopped and exits the vehicle. A second city vehicle also pulls up and the sheriff’s deputy comes to a stop. The city officer giving chase exits his vehicle and approaches the driver’s side of the subject vehicle with his gun drawn. Tells subject “let me see your hands.” The subject does not appear to comply.

4:00- Officers attempt to open the driver’s side door but find it is locked.

4:01- Officers tell subject “open the door.” Three officers are visible and subject has a flashlight shining in his face. Subject appears to reach into his right pocket with his right hand.

4:02- Subject raises his right hand to display a handgun. He does not turn to face the officers but appears to point the gun directly at one of the officers.

4:03- “He’s got a gun. He’s got a gun.” Two of the officers fire into the car. It is difficult to count the number of shots fired since some are simultaneous. It appears to be at least a dozen shots over the course of about four seconds. Case did not return fire.

4:19: Deputy: “Shots fired. Subject is down.”

4:24: Deputy: “Notify everybody. We’re going to be at 1st Street. Get EMS rolling this way. Subject is down.”

4:55: Officers are heard checking on one another and one radios in “All the officers are good. Subject is down.”

5:05: Dispatcher is heard letting officers know that EMS is en route. Officers search the vehicle for the gun, locating it in the floorboard. The scene is taped off and roads around the scene are closed.

6:23- Scene is secured. The remainder of the video shows the evidence being collected and various other officers moving to and from the scene. At one point there is a discussion that some onlookers could be arrested if they do not disperse but no arrests are actually seen on the video.

Case’s criminal history included possession of drugs, failure to stop for a blue light, reckless driving, possession of a stolen vehicle, resisting arrest, neglect by a legal custodian, assault on a police officer while being arrested and a felony DUI charge. No charges were brought against any of the officers. Underwood said shortly after the incident that all the officers involved acted appropriately.

“I believe my officers were justified in this incident. The reason why is pretty plain and simple; when you have (someone) pointing and presenting to an officer, the officer has to respond with the equivalent amount of force.”

A portion of the chase video from the city vehicle can be seen at https://www.onlinechester.com/content/officer-involved-shootingchase-das...