The city of Florence’s mayor insists a police officer who shot and killed a man outside a hotel last weekend only did so after the suspect opened fire first.
State Law Enforcement Division investigators are looking into Saturday’s shooting of 68-year-old Jethro Benjamin outside the Hilton Garden Inn in Florence. Florence Police said Benjamin waved his gun at an officer responding to the hotel and refused to drop it, instead opening fire. The officer fired back, hitting him. Benjamin later died on his way to the hospital, according to the county coroner’s office.
Mayor Stephen Wukela called the incident a tragedy, but said he believes the officer acted appropriately.
“Its terrible. It’s a terribly tragic situation,” he told WBTW-TV. “We’re devastated by the turn of events. But unfortunately, it doesn’t appear there was an alternative. It’s terribly unfortunate what had to occur but when you’ve got an individual with a firearm in a public place, an officer put himself in between that danger and the public.”
SLED said the shooting is the 19th officer-involved shooting in South Carolina this year. The agency did not say if the shooting was recorded on any dashboard or officer body cameras.
The officer involved is on paid leave during the investigation, as is normal policy.