A state judge on Tuesday sentenced a former South Carolina Highway Patrol trooper to 12 years in prison for shooting an unarmed man at a Columbia gas station three years ago.
However, Sean Groubert’s sentence was suspended to five years in prison and three years probation. Circuit Judge Casey Manning said Groubert will get credit for the 17 months he has already spent in jail.
Groubert pleaded guilty last year to assault and battery of a high and aggravated nature after he shot and injured Levar Jones in 2014, just seconds after pulling him over for a seatbelt violation. The dashboard camera footage showed Groubert approach Jones and ask for his license, then appear to panic and open fire as Jones quickly spun around to reach for it. The footage received national attention at the time, amid racially-tinged debate on violence between officers and minorities. Groubert was fired and charged shortly before the video’s public release. (Watch video here)
The former trooper apologized to Jones in court, saying he had a flashback to another officer-involved shooting he had witnessed in 2012. “You did nothing wrong and I screwed up,” Groubert said while looking directly at his victim. “Plain and simple. I made the biggest mistake of my life.” [Read more…]