RICHLAND COUNTY, SC (WIS) - The former South Carolina trooper who pleaded guilty in connection to a high-profile shooting of a man during a traffic stop has been sentenced.
Judge Casey Manning sentenced Sean Groubert to 12 years in prison suspended to 5 years and 3 years probation with credit for time served. After 17 months of time served, Groubert will stay in prison for roughly 3 1/2 years unless he is released on good behavior.
In 2016, Groubert admitted his guilt on a charge of assault and battery of a high and aggravated nature for the September 2014 incident where he pulled over Levar Jones in the parking lot of a Circle K on Broad River Road for a seatbelt violation.
Dash cam footage from Groubert's patrol car showed Jones reached in his truck to get his license and registration, but Groubert opened fire.
Jones was shot in the hip and survived. He explained what happened during a 2014 interview on NBC.
"I don't know what happened," Jones said. "I just grabbed my license."
Groubert then told Jones he fired his weapon because Jones dove head first into the car.
In brief remarks before the courtroom, Jones said the incident has caused him trust issues against other law enforcement agents, regardless of color.
"I'm not the same person I used to be," Jones said, explaining how his life had changed in the past several years.
Jones also asked for the maximum sentence of 20 years.
"Today, let justice be served," Jones said.
Groubert spoke for himself after material witnesses spoke for his character. He addressed Jones directly in court, admitted to making a mistake when he shot him.
"Mr. Jones, I made the world's biggest mistake the day I stopped you, and I owe you the world's biggest apology," Groubert said. "I've searched in vain for three years to find the words to express to you how sorry I am but they don't exist."
"I screwed up."
Groubert also told Jones that he prays for him every night and that he did nothing wrong.