Testimony resumes in former Eutawville police chief murder trial

Testimony resumes in former Eutawville police chief murder trial
Scene of the shooting.
Scene of the shooting.


Associated Press

ORANGEBURG, S.C. (AP/WCSC) - A white ex-police chief in South Carolina told investigators he feared for his life when the black man he was trying to arrest started to drive off with the chief caught in the door of his pickup truck.

A statement that former Eutawville Police Chief Richard Combs gave to investigators just after the 2011 shooting death of Bernard Bailey was read Thursday at Combs' murder trial in Orangeburg. Combs faces 30 years to life in prison if he is convicted.

Prosecutors offered the statement to try to show inconsistencies in Combs' story. Combs said he fired twice while hanging onto the door and a third time while falling to the ground. But in a hearing last year, he said he was falling as he fired all three shots.

The two men reportedly argued after Bailey went to town hall to question a traffic ticket Combs had given Bailey's daughter.

A jury of seven blacks and five whites was seated Tuesday evening and the panel hears opening statements in Orangeburg County on Wednesday morning.

Before the jury was seated, the judge and attorneys closely questioned about 40 potential jurors about what they had heard and read about the case. About half the jury pool indicated they knew something.

Combs' attorneys later withdrew their request to move the trial to another county.

The indictment last month of Combs drew comparisons to the Ferguson shooting and the chokehold death of a black man being arrested by police in New York.

A wrongful death lawsuit was filed on behalf of Bailey against the Town of Eutawville and Combs on October 1, 2012.

A settlement was reached in April 2014.

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