Nearly two months later, investigation continues into deadly Colleton County officer-involved shooting

Nearly two months later, investigation continues into deadly Colleton County officer-involved shooting
SLED is investigating a fatal March 22 shooting that involved a Colleton County deputy. (Source: Live 5)

CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCSC) - The South Carolina Law Enforcement Division's investigation into a March shooting in which a Colleton County deputy fatally shot a 22-year-old man remains open.

Derek Smith (Source: Stephens Funeral Homes)
Derek Smith (Source: Stephens Funeral Homes)

It has been almost two months since the March 22 incident in which Derek Smith, 22, of Walterboro, was fatally shot by a deputy who was responding to a call about a reported burglary.

Colleton County Sheriff R.A. Strickland said the deputy arrived at a church parking lot where Smith pulled out a knife. Strickland said the deputy tried to resolve the situation peacefully but, in order to protect and defend herself, fired at least one round, hitting Smith.

EMS took Smith to the Colleton County Medical Center where he died.

Because the investigation is still open, SLED has not released any new details on the incident.

Smith was laid to rest eight days after the shooting. He was a graduate of Colleton County High School and was a proud member of the U.S. Army National Guard 1223rd Unit Engineering Company. Members of that unit served as pallbearers at Smith’s funeral.

No ‘average’ time for an investigation, SLED says

It is normal procedure to call in SLED agents to investigate officer-involved shootings. The agency investigates such incidents at the request of the law enforcement agency involved, providing an independent look at what happened.

But SLED spokesman Thom Berry said there is no “average” time for such an investigation to take place.

“There are many variables outside of our control including having to locate and schedule interviews with individuals involved in the incident, laboratory analyses, autopsy and associated test results,” Berry said.

SLED agents work to conduct all investigations in a timely manner, Berry said, while understanding that each investigation “must be thorough, fair and impartial.”

When the investigation is complete, SLED summarizes the data in a case file report and submits it to prosecutors.

The shooting was the 11th officer-involved shooting in the state.

Charleston County officer-involved shooting on same day also still under open investigation

The shooting that claimed Smith's life was the first of two officer-involved shootings on March 22.

The second happened after a bank robbery in Pawleys Island and a chase into Charleston County.

The incident occurred at a Bank of America shortly before 6:00 p.m., according to Georgetown County Sheriff’s Office. (Source: GCSO)
The incident occurred at a Bank of America shortly before 6:00 p.m., according to Georgetown County Sheriff’s Office. (Source: GCSO) (Source: GCSO)

In that incident, Richard Edward Inman, 49, of Fountain Inn, was wounded.

Investigators said Inman entered the Bank of America branch on U.S. 17 in the Pawleys Island community just before 6 p.m. on March 22 and presented a note demanding money to a teller. He said he was armed with a firearm, according to a report. He left the area in a van that was spotted by deputies traveling south on U.S. 17 in Georgetown County.

A police chase led out of Georgetown County and ended just south of McClellanville where a deputy wounded Inman.

He survived the shooting and days after crews took him to MUSC for treatment, Inman was transferred to the Georgetown County jail.

He was charged with armed robbery; entering a bank, depository or building and loan with intent to steal; and failure to stop for a blue light.

Like the Colleton County incident, SLED has released no details on this shooting because of its continuing investigation.

The most recent officer-involved shooting happened on May 11 in Johnston, a town in Edgefield County. Berry said an officer with the Johnston Police Department fired at a vehicle that swerved toward the officer while the vehicle was being pursued by a South Carolina State Trooper.

That incident was the 21st officer-involved shooting of the year.

There were a total of 43 officer-involved shooting cases in the state in 2018, Berry said.

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