Murder retrial begins for ex-police chief in 2011 shooting

Jury in ex-police chief's murder retrial will be picked this afternoon
Scene of the shooting
Scene of the shooting

EUTAWVILLE, SC (WCSC) - The murder retrial of a former Eutawville police chief began Monday afternoon with opening statements in Columbia.

Richard Combs is charged with murder in the 2011 shooting death of Bernard Bailey. Authorities say Bailey was shot three times by Combs during a confrontation in his truck outside Eutawville Town Hall in May of 2011.

Solicitor David Pascoe told jurors during opening statements that Bailey was shot over a broken traffic light, and that Combs has given several different statements of the incident.

Pascoe told the jury Combs killed Bailey in an absolute senseless act of violence.

Combs' attorney, Wally Fayssoux, told the jury this case is all about three seconds that Bailey refused to obey commands and stomped on the gas pedal of his pickup truck before Combs shot him

Combs looked on as lawyers for both sides gave their opening arguments on this first day of the trial.

The retrial was moved from Orangeburg County to Columbia after Combs' attorney convinced a judge to move the location, saying his client would not have received a fair trial in Orangeburg.

The presiding judge in Combs' first murder trial declared a mistrial in the case; the jury faced three options of murder, voluntary manslaughter or not guilty.

In January, Combs told jurors he was scared for his life after he got stuck in the door of Bailey's truck as the vehicle was moving which led to the May 2, 2011 shooting.

Authorities say Combs was trying to serve an obstruction of justice warrant on Bailey in connection with a traffic ticket he gave to Bailey's daughter.

Combs' lawyers had said he shot Bailey in self defense because he feared Bailey would run him over with his truck. Prosecutors say it's a case of murder because Bailey had stopped his truck and had his hands up.

Prosecutors say Combs held on to the warrant for Bailey's arrest for two months, and said the chief then acted on it to make an example. Combs' defense attorneys said that Combs had a lawful duty to arrest Bailey, and Bailey had a duty to submit.

Combs was placed on administrative leave at the time of the shooting, and was later terminated that year.

In 2013, federal investigators decided not to file any charges against Combs in connection with the incident.

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