COLLETON COUNTY, S.C. (WCSC) - A man who was fatally shot by a deputy had called authorities reporting a burglary taking place and gave a description of the suspect which matched the caller’s description of himself, according to a newly released investigative report.
Officials with the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division released the report on the incident that took place at the parking lot of the Faith Church on Hampton Street in Walterboro.
The March 22, 2019 incident took the life of 22-year-old Derek Smith who investigators say was shot by the responding Colleton County Sheriff’s Office deputy after he approached the deputy while holding a knife.
SLED’s investigative report states that Smith continuously advanced on the deputy who retreated and gave verbal commands to Smith while attempting to talk him down.
The deputy said she shot and killed Smith after she said that she had no additional options to retreat; investigators said the deputy had retreated for more than 110 feet, retreating around her vehicle, completing one full revolution and then continuing to be followed by Smith to the end of the driveway into the parking lot.
Colleton County Sheriff R.A. Strickland said the deputy tried to resolve the situation peacefully but was ultimately forced to fire at Smith to protect and defend herself.
Based on 911 audio, investigators say the deputy fired four shots.
In addition, the investigative report states that Smith made previous attempts to end his life after being rebuffed by a woman.
According to the report, Smith previously attempted to have a deputy kill him by calling 911 and asking a deputy to come kill him. Authorities said in that incident Smith armed himself with a knife and approached the responding deputy.
This past September officials with the Fourteenth Circuit Solicitor’s Office said they did not plan to pursue criminal charges against against the deputy and cited the SLED report.
Solicitor Duffie Stone stated in a letter to SLED that he saw “no evidence that would substantiate any general sessions charges” against the deputy.
“She appears to have acted appropriately given the facts and circumstances,” he wrote.