An Edgefield County grand jury has indicted a former North Augusta officer who shot and killed an unarmed man last year. It’s the latest step in an ongoing case that has slipped below the national radar when compared to other police shootings around the country.
The county Clerk of Court’s Office said the grand jury on Wednesday indicted former North Augusta Public Safety officer Justin Craven on a charge of discharging a firearm into an occupied vehicle. Craven is accused of shooting 68-year-old Ernest Satterwhite as Satterwhite sat in a driveway following a high-speed police chase in February 2014. The former officer has already been indicted on a misconduct in office charge last year related to the incident.
Craven could face up to ten years in prison and a $1,000 fine if convicted.
State Law Enforcement Division investigators said the incident began when Craven tried to initiate a traffic stop on Satterwhite. Satterwhite led the officer on a 13-mile chase outside the city limits and into neighboring Edgefield County. According to reports at the time, the officer reported the chase got to speeds “in excess of 100 MPH.”
Eventually, Satterwhite arrived home and pulled into his driveway. The North Augusta officer came up to the side of the vehicle and fired at least three shots. Craven said Satterwhite had grabbed his gun and he opened fire because he feared for his life. Craven’s attorney has argued the shooting was justified.
State police have so far refused to release dashboard camera video of the incident, with SLED chief Mark Keel saying it would likely hurt Craven’s chance at a fair trial.