Sheriff: “Mental health is a serious issue,” deadly deputy-involved shooting addressed, victim identified

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Published: Mar. 19, 2022 at 7:18 PM EDT|Updated: Mar. 22, 2022 at 9:27 PM EDT
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COLUMBIA, S.C. (WIS) - The death of a Columbia man who was fatally shot by a Richland County Sheriff’s Department deputy on Saturday night is under investigation.

Deputies were called to Heyward Brockington Road before 6 p.m. for a domestic call involving a weapon. When deputies arrived on scene, they say they found an individual with a weapon and opened fire on him after he charged a deputy.

According to Richland County Coroner Naida Rutherford, the victim is identified as Irvin D. Moorer-Charley, 34, of Columbia.

At a press conference on Sunday afternoon, Richland County Sheriff Leon Lott said the entire incident last no more than two minutes. All of it was caught on body camera, and 15 seconds of that was played at the press conference.

Out of respect for the family, the entire video has not been released.

Lott said though this was not a mental health call, the entire community, law enforcement included, must do a better job of addressing mental health issues.

“Unfortunately we have those in the community that when they have a mental health episode they become violent, and we get called.” he said. “Yesterday was one of those cases.”

When Deputy John Anderson responded, family members told him that they had been attacked, and that Moorer-Charley had a knife at some point.

According to RCSD, Moorer-Charley then came outside, and was approaching Anderson while being told to drop his weapon.

Deputies then deployed a taser on Moorer-Charley, which did not stop him.

He then charged at Deputy Zachary Hentz, deputies said. RCSD says Hentz feared for his life, and fired his gun.

“He was shot four times, but he was not shot in the back,” Rutherford said. “The bullets affected his aorta, his heart and his liver. The rumor that he was handcuffed while he was shot, that is absolutely not true.”

Deputies say they performed CPR on the person for 20 minutes until EMS arrived. He was later pronounced dead.

Lott said this is a sad tragedy for all involved.

“We all need to do a better job,” he said. “That’s on mental health professionals, our community, our families, law enforcement, everybody needs to do a better job in addressing mental health. We don’t need to lose anybody else to something like this.”

WIS asked Lott what he would say to family members who believe lethal force was not justified.

“We can’t expect these deputies to go out here and be killed,” he said. “They have to protect themselves. And that’s what this deputy did yesterday. He protected himself. He went home to his family last night. Unfortunately, Mr. Charley didn’t, but that was a decision that he made. Now due to his mental health condition, I don’t know what was in his mind or what was in his heart, but I also know that this deputy is not expected to die.”

Lott said he and Rutherford have spoken to the family.

“We feel for the family,” he said. “But this was not something that we created.”

RCSD says it will be taking statements and putting a package together that will then go to the solicitor’s office to determine whether or not Hentz acted justifiably in firing his weapon.

Lott said the last time RCSD had a deadly officer-involved shooting was in 2013.

Family members of Moorer-Charley tell WIS that they were not comfortable commenting on Sunday. They would like to review the footage of the incident from the RCSD before making further statements.

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