COLUMBIA, S.C. (WIS) - A 17-year-old was shot and killed by a Columbia Police Department officer after a brief foot chase on Wednesday, the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division (SLED) confirmed.
Joshua Dariandre Ruffin, 17, of Columbia, died in the shooting, the coroner said.
CPD Chief Skip Holbrook gave a statement on camera on Thursday, detailing the investigations so far.
Just before 6 p.m. Wednesday, CPD officers were patrolling the neighborhoods around Monticello Road and Columbia College Drive after receiving reports of car break-ins. That’s in the Eau Claire neighborhood.
While patrolling, an officer saw an African-American male -- Ruffin -- walking in the area and stopped to speak with him. As the officer got out of his patrol car, the teen ran, Holbrook said.
During the foot chase police say Ruffin pulled a gun, causing the officer to fire his weapon. The officer struck the teen once, Holbrook said.
The teen was hit in his “front upper body...indicating he was facing the officer at the time,” Holbrook said.
Ruffin was rushed to the hospital, where he was later pronounced dead. The coroner said an autopsy showed the teen died from complications of a gunshot wound.
“I want to offer my condolences to the family,” Holbrook said. “Any loss of life is tragic, especially a young man with a full life ahead of him.”
It’s not clear if Ruffin fired his weapon. Holbrook said investigators are still trying to determine how many shots were fired, but he reiterated that Ruffin was only shot once.
Officers recovered the gun from next to Ruffin and are looking into its history -- who owned it, if it was reported stolen, if it was used in any shootings, etc. Police said they also found a woman’s purse with cash in it in Ruffin’s possession.
“We do not know the relevance of the purse at this time,” Holbrook said.
The officer was not hurt and will be placed on administrative leave with pay pending the outcome of SLED’s investigation.
Holbrook did not identify the officer, but said he is a white man who has worked with the department for four and a half years. The officer has not been involved with any other officer-involved shootings, Holbrook said.
Neither CPD nor SLED have released body cam footage of the shooting, saying it’s part of the investigation.
Holbrook said the department does have the video and would release it “at the appropriate time.”
CPD’s Office of Professional Standards is also conducting an administrative investigation.
“We ask for your patience as we complete this investigative process and have confidence in our track record for transparency and accountability,” Holbrook said.
The Richland One School District said Ruffin was a student of the Richland One Evening High School Program.
“We extend our heartfelt condolences to Joshua’s family and friends,” Karen York, the district’s spokeswoman, said. “They will be in our thoughts and prayers.”
SLED said this was the ninth officer-involved shooting in South Carolina in 2020, and the first of the year involving CPD.