CPD releases full body cam video of 2019 officer-involved shooting after suspect sues department

CPD Chief Skip Holbrook says the suspect’s lawyer's account is a misrepresentation of what happened.
Published: Jun. 26, 2020 at 11:26 PM EDT
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COLUMBIA, S.C. (WIS) - Body camera video of an officer-involved shooting from 2019 between a Columbia police officer and Sir Brandon Legette was released during a press conference on June 26 by Legette’s attorneys, as well as the Columbia Police Department later on Friday afternoon.

Legette’s attorney, Marc Brown, only shared a portion of the footage from the body camera of Officer Sean Rollins, saying that it showed Legette was not resisting arrest and that the shooting was not necessary.

Hours later, the Columbia Police Department released the entire body camera footage, as well as the dash cam footage, from the beginning to the end of the incident.

WARNING: The following video contains foul language as well as graphic images and audio of the officer-involved shooting. Viewer discretion is advised. (Story continues below video.)

WARNING: Graphic images, foul language and violence is shown in this video, which was released by CPD in June 2020.

CPD also released its own statement, saying Brown’s news conference was misleading.

“Based on the facts of this case and given the current climate of our country, the narrative provided during that press conference was inaccurate, incomplete, and irresponsible,” a spokeswoman for CPD said.

On August 24, 2019, around 3 a.m., officers with CPD pulled over Legette in the Food Lion parking lot on Broad River Road. Legette had just gotten off work from his second job at that grocery store, he told them.

In the body cam video, Rollins asks Legette why he flashed his headlights at them, and asks if he is OK. Rollins says that is the reason they stopped him.

Legette says he accidentally flashed his lights because he thought he had his high beams on.

When asked if he had anything illegal in his car, Legette told Rollins his license was suspended, but he just needed a couple days to pay the reinstatement fee to get it back.

Officials said that after checking Legette’s name and information, officers determined he was driving under suspension and had two warrants stemming from a robbery that took place on August 8.

Legette says during his interaction with the officers, one of them, Rollins, jumped into his car and the car ended up traveling 150 yards across the parking lot where it ran down an embankment and came to a complete stop.

Brown showed a few still images claiming Rollins was completely inside the vehicle when it began to roll. Brown said Rollins’ body camera fell off and was lying faceup on the floor of the car once the car hit the embankment.

The video CPD released shows Rollins repeatedly asking Legette to exit his vehicle before trying to grab his arm and pull him out of the vehicle. At that point, the video shows Rollins at least partially in the car and another officer being pushed away before Legette takes off across the parking lot.

Rollins is heard screaming for Legette to stop the vehicle.

CPD says Legette pulled Rollins into the car and took off across the parking lot “at a high rate of speed” with Rollins hanging partially outside the vehicle.

In their statement, CPD says Legette purposefully drove down the embankment and crashed his car, causing the air bags to deploy.

Once the car hit the embankment, Brown said Legette was laying facedown across the center console of his car with his arms above his head, and seconds later, Brown said Rollins hit Legette twice in the back of the head with his firearm and then shot him in the back of the head.

“The airbags deployed, Brandon was compliant, the officer had complete control of his firearm, complete control of Brandon and the situation, but unfortunately he did not have complete control of himself. And he attempted to execute Brandon,” Brown said.

CPD says Legette and Rollins kept struggling after the crash and that’s why Rollins fired his weapon.

The video is unclear, as Rollins’ body camera did fall off into the floor board of the car during the crash.

“Back-up officers traversed down the embankment, secured Legette and rendered aid to Legette and Officer Rollins,” CPD’s statement reads. “Both were treated at a hospital for injuries sustained from the incident.”

CPD says Rollins was released from the hospital later that day, and Legette was released Sept. 3 and taken to jail.

In their statement Friday, CPD also said “it is important to note the following:

  • “Legette acknowledged possessing the firearm that officers located on the driver’s side floorboard of his vehicle.
  • “The firearm was reported stolen from Ninety-Six, South Carolina in a 2017 burglary.
  • “Based on the August 2019 incident, Legette was charged with Assault and Battery of a High and Aggravated Nature, Possession of a Stolen Pistol, Driving Under Suspension, Operating Vehicle without Insurance, Use of Another Vehicle’s License Plate.
  • “At the time of this incident, Legette was out on bond for an unrelated 2018 charge of Domestic Violence of a High and Aggravated Nature and Unlawful Neglect of a Child
  • “Also at the time of this incident, Legette had two outstanding arrest warrants for Burglary, 2nd Degree and Petit Larceny stemming from a 2018 incident.”

SLED investigated the incident and Solicitor Byron Gipson reviewed SLED’s report. Gipson found that Rollins acted in accordance to the law and that his use of force was reasonably necessary in light of the circumstances.

Brown said he did not agree with the SLED investigation findings.

“He does not belong to be carrying a firearm patrolling the streets of Columbia and he needs to be terminated immediately,” Brown said.

Legette added: “With the situation I was just terrified, and I’m just appreciative and thankful to be here today to share my story with you all -- the truth.”

CPD Chief Skip Holbrook says Brown and Legette’s account is a misrepresentation of what happened.

“The Columbia Police Department understands and acknowledges the current distrust some feel with law enforcement and is committed to continued accountability, transparency, and growth through community partnerships,” Holbrook said. “We stand at a defining moment in history and each of us must work through meaningful and thoughtful processes to effect positive change and reform. We cannot do this if individuals choose to misrepresent facts and provide false narratives in an effort to divide our community. As citizens, we should all demand more.”

Legette has filed a lawsuit against Rollins, CPD, and the City of Columbia, saying that the use of force was not justified or reasonably necessary.

HAPPENING NOW: Body cam video showing shooting between CPD and Legette to be released for the first time>>https://bit.ly/3dDcw2n

Posted by WIS TV on Friday, June 26, 2020

Brown said he did not show all of the footage captured by the body camera because Legette is still facing criminal charges from the incident.

CPD officials say Legette is charged with assault and battery of a high and aggravated nature, possession of a stolen pistol, driving under suspension, as well as a few other charges related to this case.

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