Family attorney for man shot by RCSD deputy calls for independent investigation, says excessive force was used

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Published: Mar. 22, 2022 at 8:30 PM EDT|Updated: Mar. 23, 2022 at 2:23 PM EDT
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COLUMBIA, S.C. (WIS) - The family attorney for a man who was fatally shot by a Richland County Sheriff’s Department deputy over the weekend is calling for an independent investigation into the matter.

Attorney Shaquana Cuttino also claims that the deputy used excessive force in shooting Irvin D. Moorer-Charley.

“This could’ve all been avoided, and it’s a tragedy that we don’t want repeated,” she said.

The incident occurred on Saturday when deputies responded to a domestic call with a weapon.

RCSD released the 911 call, during which an unidentified woman can be heard saying that a man had pulled a knife on her brother, mother and stepfather.

According to RCSD, when deputy John Anderson responded, family members told him they had been attacked.

On Tuesday, RCSD released a 49-second dashcam video that shows the moments leading up to the shooting.

Charley can be seen approaching Anderson while being told to drop his weapon. A deputy then tased Charley, which did not stop him.

Charley then charged Deputy Zachary Hentz with a wooden stake in his hand, and Hentz shoots him.

Cuttino believes deputies did not do everything they could to subdue Charley.

“One of the first things officers can do is assess the entire situation by talking to the family members,” she said. “See what they have to say. Is this person experiencing a crisis, what’s going on before you decide that this person is a threat and opening fire? In addition to that, Mr. Charley was moving extremely slow. Why not bum rush him to the ground?”

According to Cuttino, Charley’s brother Ivan told deputies in portions of the incident that have not been released publicly that his brother did not have a weapon. He explained what was going on with Charley’s mental state, Cuttino said.

“He was ordered to stand down,” she said.

Cuttino said deputies had responded to calls from that home before and should have known about Charley’s mental illness. He had schizophrenia and dissociative identity disorder, according to the attorney.

“He was nonverbal,” Cuttino said. “That should have been a clear indication that something was going on with him mentally. If these officers have the training that they need to have, maybe they can recognize that.”

In releasing the dashcam video, RCSD said in a statement they were doing so to “provide clarity to misstatements that this was a mental health call for service.”

Cuttino said that deputies should have tried to do more to talk Charley down, or sent a crisis intervention team.

“Even if the call comes in as a domestic call, if you have the proper training, you can identify when someone is having a mental crisis,” she said.

RCSD investigates its own officer-involved shootings, but Cuttino says this is insufficient. She said it is “vital” that the investigation be done by the State Law Enforcement Division or another independent agency.

SLED confirmed to WIS on Tuesday that it is not investigating this incident.

The attorneys representing Charley’s family say they plan to file a lawsuit against RCSD alleging that excessive force was used. The attorneys also say that they believe Hentz should be fired following the incident.

When asked on Sunday to respond to family members who believe that lethal force was not justified, Lott defended the actions of the deputy.

“They have to protect themselves,” he said. “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.”

The 5th Circuit Solicitor’s Office will determine whether or not Hentz was justified in firing his weapon.

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