A man who shot and killed a Forest Acres police officer during a chase through a mall has now pleaded guilty and will spend the rest of his life in prison.
Jarvis Hall entered the plea in a Richland County court Tuesday for the murder of 32-year-old officer Greg Alia in September 2015. He also pleaded guilty to weapons charges, possession of a stolen pistol, possession of a stolen motor vehicle, receiving stolen goods, removing a license plate and resisting arrest. He also admitted guilt to prior armed robbery and attempted armed robbery charges in Lexington County. Judge Steven John sentenced Hall to life without parole.
Alia’s widow Kassy spoke briefly during the hearing, saying she forgives Hall but had not wanted to even think about the man who killed her husband. “Your Honor, I struggled with whether I should speak today,” she said. “Then I realized that I needed to. Because if Sal (the Alias’ 2-year-old son) were to look back… I want him to hear these words. I want him to be able to find love in his heart, to redirect any pain he may feel towards helping others. I hope that he seeks to listen, to understand, to empathize, as I know people did during our pain.”
She told reporters afterwards she does not want the conviction to bring any kind of debate about who “won” or “lost.” “I’m here to say there are no teams, there are no winners,” she said. “Everyone lost today.”
Hall offered his own apology shortly before Judge John handed down his sentence. “I don’t think if I was in their shoes that I would be as positive as they were. I want to apologize from my own mouth, to say I’m sorry for their loss. I apologize to everyone my actions have affected. My family, as well.”
According to prosecutors, Alia and two other officers had been investigating reports of a suspicious person at the Richland Fashion Mall when they approached Hall and asked for his identification. Hall instead ran inside the mall near a Barnes and Noble bookstore. Two officers chased Hall, but Alia reached him first. The other officer told investigators he came upon Alia and Hall struggle to the floor before Hall pulled a gun and shot Alia in the back of the head, fatally wounding him. The second and third officer then pinned Hall and used a Taser before restraining the other man and handcuffing him.
By pleading guilty, Hall avoids a death penalty trial, but agrees not to appeal his life sentence.
Alia’s shooting stunned the Forest Acres community, which had not lost an on-duty officer in 40 years. Thousands attended his funeral in October 2015 and an intersection near the mall was renamed the “Officer Gregory Thomas Alia Interchange” within a year. Kassy Alia has since created a nonprofit called Heroes in Blue, which seeks to honor officers for their positive actions in the community.