CHARLESTON, SC (WCSC) - In light of last weekend's officer-involved shooting in West Ashley, Charleston Police Chief Greg Mullen and Mayor Joe Riley have called on South Carolinians to address a lack of oversight concerning bond and bail for repeat offenders.
During a news conference on Thursday, Mullen and Riley stressed that the man who shot Officer Cory Goldstein near Sam Rittenberg Boulevard and Savannah Highway last Saturday following a traffic stop should not have been out on the streets.
Police said Goldstein was chasing Blake when the suspect turned around and shot him three times, once in the chest just above his heart. Goldstein returned fire and Blake suffered two gunshot wounds as well. Blake remains in the hospital.
The suspect, 26-year-old Mark Lorenzo Blake Jr., had been released from the Charleston County Detention Center earlier this year after he was arrested on heroin trafficking charges in late February. Mullen said Blake was already out on bond from 2012 drug-related charges when he was arrested in February.
Mullen said he was physically ill when word of the shootout reached him. He challenged law-enforcement agencies, citizens, and the media to put a systemic failure under the microscope, "The system failed Cory Goldstein […] Blake should have been in jail."
"The question is, how do we keep bad people out of our community?"
Riley called for lawmakers to pass SC Senator Robert Ford's bill to strengthen the criminal justice system, "The criminal justice system in South Carolina is broken […] Right now, the bond revocation process is torturous. It takes a lot of time."
Ford's proposal, titled Senate Bill 19, states, "If a person commits a crime while they are out on bond, that person will face a mandatory minimum of five years in prison."
"Corey Goldstein's life was saved by his bulletproof vest, not the law," the mayor continued. "The faster hoodlums are off the street, the safer our community will become."
Mullen showered praise on Goldstein, saying he may become the poster boy of how police officers should act, "Cory is a remarkable police officer and person […] Cory continued to fight for us and I will continue to fight for him."
The officer is in good spirits and resting with his family in Charlotte after being released from the hospital earlier this week, according to Mullen. The chief said Goldstein has not given any indication he is not "eager, willing, and ready to get back on the street."
Mullen said he hopes more effective legislation is in place to keep repeat offenders off the street by the end of 2013.