GRAPHIC: Attorneys release police video of fatal officer-involved shooting
GEORGETOWN COUNTY, S.C. (WCSC) - Attorneys representing the family of a man shot and killed in February by a Hemingway police officer released the dashcam video from the shooting on Tuesday.
Robert Langley, 46, was shot and killed on Feb. 6 in Georgetown County after a chase that began in Williamsburg County ended in a crash.
A Hemingway Police Department incident report released by the State Law Enforcement Division states the incident began between 1 a.m. and 1:30 a.m. on Feb. 6 when Hemingway Police Officer Cassandra Dollard spotted a silver vehicle being driven by Langley failing to stop at a stop sign at the intersection of West Andrews Street and South Rail Road Avenue.
Dollard said she activated her vehicle’s blue lights and turned to conduct a traffic stop. The report states the officer caught up with Langley at the intersection of South Rail Road Avenue and West Broad Street, but that as she began to notify Williamsburg County Dispatch, the driver suddenly drove away.
The report states the officer pursued the vehicle down West Broad Street toward Georgetown County.
“At times, the driver did slow the vehicle as if he was going to stop or make a turn,” the report states. “Without doing so, the vehicle again accelerated to a high rate of speed.”
The report states the driver attempted to make a left turn at the intersection of Schoolhouse Road and Choppee Road but that the driver was failed to complete the turn at his rate of speed, and the vehicle exited the roadway and collided head-on into a ditch.
The remainder of the police report, as released by SLED, was redacted.
An incident report from the Georgetown County Sheriff’s Office states deputies responded at approximately 1:35 a.m on Feb. 6 to the area of Choppee Road and Schoolhouse Drive in the Pleasant Hill area. Deputies shut down the intersection to traffic after Langley was taken to the hospital and then turned the scene over to SLED agents when they arrived.
Dollard was arrested on Feb. 9 in Berkeley County and charged with voluntary manslaughter, according to SLED.
SLED has not yet released the video publicly and says their investigation is ongoing.
“When people watch this video, I hope they realize that this isn’t just some statistic. He was a father, a brother, a son and they killed him for nothing,” Langley’s mother, Roslyn Brockington Langley, said in a statement. “They left a hole in our lives and it could happen to anyone.”
Attorneys for the family described the video as “troubling and telling.”
“It’s clear from the video that Officer Dollard was out of her depth,” Sen. Bakari Sellers, one of the attorneys representing Langley’s family, said. “She never should have been cleared to wear a badge and carry a gun and Robert Junior Langley paid for it with his life.”
Sellers and the other attorneys for the family, Sen. Gerald Malloy and Horry County Attorney Brana Williams, say the family will be taking legal action to hold Dollard, the town of Hemingway and the South Carolina Criminal Justice Academy responsible for Langley’s death and say future lawsuits may be expanded to include Williamsburg County and others.
“Let’s be clear. Officer Dollard pulled the trigger, but the Hemingway Police Department gave her the gun and the South Carolina Criminal Justice Academy cleared her to use it,” Malloy said. “It’s a dramatic failure at every level and it’s difficult to watch.”
Family hopes release of officer-involved shooting will lead to justice
Attorneys representing Langley’s family said they were devastated after seeing the video but hope having it out in the public will bring them justice.
Malloy said although it is not legal, people roll through stop signs daily and says Langley’s family does not believe that act should have led to him being killed.
He said Langley was unarmed and the incident could have been handled following proper protocol.
“I think that the family wanted the video released because they wanted to see what happened to their loved one and they want to make sure that his name lives on,” Malloy said. “And so, who knows, that a person has to die for us to recognize there are some systemic issues in our culture that cause people to end up acting in that way.”
He also said that based on her previous law enforcement record, she should not have been hired as an officer. Dollard’s training history shows she was terminated from two law enforcement agencies over her career. Records from the South Carolina Criminal Justice Academy show she had started her job with the Hemingway Police Department in September 2021.
But Criminal Justice Academy records indicate she was fired in April 2002 from her position with the Johnsonville Police Department for “poor performance,” and fired in September 2014 from the Department of Public Safety.
In a personnel change-in-status report, then-Director of Public Safety Leroy Smith stated she violated multiple policies including willful violation of rules, improper conduct unbecoming of a state employee and negligence in the performance of duty.
Malloy says the entire system, meant to protect and serve, failed and did the exact opposite. Malloy said Tuesday afternoon they will continue to fight for justice for the Langley family and they hope incidents like this can be prevented in the future.
He says this incident could have been avoided if Dollard wasn’t given a uniform in the first place.
“She had trouble in her previous jobs and a person who had failed to report in her previous jobs,” Malloy said. “Hemingway Police Department hiring a person when they knew or should have known her past troubles in law enforcement.”
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