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Solicitor clears Charleston County deputy in deadly shooting

Published: Oct. 12, 2021 at 2:41 PM EDT|Updated: Oct. 12, 2021 at 4:29 PM EDT
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CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCSC) - The Ninth Circuit Solicitor says a Charleston County deputy’s use of deadly force was “reasonable, appropriate and lawful” in a September shooting.

Solicitor Scarlett Wilson notified Sheriff Kristin Graziano of her decision Tuesday in connection with the Sept. 18 shooting in the 2500 block of Mona Avenue.

Jason Husted, 47, died after being wounded by Deputy Nicholas Vecchione.

Deputies said the incident began at approximately 7:21 a.m. on Sept. 18 when they responded to reports of shots fired on Mona Avenue. Multiple residents called 911 to report someone firing a gun.

Investigators say the gunfire damaged multiple houses and vehicles in the area.

A report by the sheriff’s office states that once deputies arrived on the scene, there was an exchange of gunfire with one of the Husted’s rounds striking a deputy’s patrol vehicle.

“A deputy discharged his weapon, striking and incapacitating the subject,” Capt. Roger Antonio said. “The subject was transported to a hospital and was soon pronounced dead.”

No deputies or residents were injured by the gunfire, Antonio said.

Wilson wrote to Graziano that while the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division has not compiled its final report, investigating agents briefed her on details and provided reports, 911 recordings, a home surveillance video and body-worn camera video. Wilson noted that Vecchione cooperated fully with the investigation and provided a voluntary statement detailing the incident.

Once deputies arrived at the scene, Wilson said, Husted fired his weapon toward Vecchione’s location, and Vecchione returned fire. The initial shot, she said, did not strike Husted. After Husted fired his weapon again, however, Vecchione again returned fire and one shot did strike Husted in the upper torso, knocking him to the ground, Wilson wrote.

Wilson said body cameras showed another deputy removing the Beretta 9mm Husted was still holding in his hand and that deputies found two pistol magazines in Husted’s front pants pocket. Deputies attempted to provide medical aid to Husted until EMS arrived, Wilson said. Husted later died from the injury.

“Deputy Vecchione was the only law enforcement officer on scene who fired a weapon and he only fired three times,” Wilson wrote. “All the other audible gunshots heard in the footage were fired by Husted. This is substantiated by the multiple 911 callers who witnessed Husted firing his weapon in the front and back yards of the [Mona Avenue home] before and after officers arrived at the scene.”

Investigators recovered multiple 9mm cartridge casings from the front driveway and back yard and three Winchester .223 REM caliber cartridges fired by Vecchione, Wilson wrote.

Wilson said it was “abundantly clear” that Vecchione and the other law enforcement officers on the scene, a family member Husted reportedly was holding hostage and neighbors were in “actual and imminent danger of death and/or great bodily harm from Husted’s behavior.”

“It is apparent that Husted fired multiple shots at and into occupied homes and fired multiple times at responding officers before Deputy Vecchione returned fire,” Wilson wrote. “The use of deadly force by Deputy Vecchione was reasonable, appropriate and lawful in response to the unlawful actions of Jason Husted.”

Vecchione has been with the sheriff’s office since May 12, 2017, and was placed on administrative leave with pay following the shooting.

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