$15K bond issued to Eutawville police chief indicted for controversial slaying

Published: Aug. 14, 2013 at 3:44 PM EDT|Updated: Aug. 15, 2013 at 6:54 PM EDT
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Combs in court on Thursday. (Photo: WISTV)
Combs in court on Thursday. (Photo: WISTV)

ORANGEBURG COUNTY, SC (WCSC) - The former Eutawville police chief indicted two years after controversially shooting and killing a man outside town hall was issued a $15,000 bond on Thursday.

Richard Combs was booked at the Orangeburg County Detention Center on a charge of misconduct in office.

First Circuit Solicitor David Pascoe said the indictment argues Combs used excessive force during the shooting which left 54-year-old Bernard Bailey, a well-respected figure in the small town, dead.

According to town residents, Bailey went to the town hall on May 2, 2011, to pay a water bill and to inquire about a traffic ticket his daughter had received. At some point while Bailey was in front of the town hall, he was shot and killed by Combs, according to the Orangeburg County Sheriff's Office. Investigators said Bailey was shot three times as he tried to drive away, with Combs saying he was trapped between Bailey's truck and another vehicle's door.

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

Federal investigators decided not to file any charges in connection with the incident earlier this year, which dismayed Carl B. Grant, the attorney representing Bailey's family.

Grant said Combs was heard saying racial epithets to Bailey when he fired shots. When asked about the feds' ruling, Grant said "any fair-minded person can smell the putrid, gut-wrenching smell of injustice when it enters the room."

While feds closed their investigation, Pascoe promised to follow up with an investigation by the First Circuit Solicitor's Office.

Prior to working with Eutawville, the South Carolina Criminal Justice Academy said Combs worked with the Elloree Police Department. Before that he was with the Orangeburg County Sheriff's Office. The academy said he was terminated from Orangeburg County.

According to a report released by the academy, Combs was terminated by the Orangeburg County Sheriff's Office for violation of agency policy not involving misconduct, good character or moral turpitude.

The report goes on to state that examples of this type of termination include, "substandard performance, excessive absenteeism, sleeping on duty, etc."

Bernard Bailey was a retired corrections officer from a state facility in Dorchester County.

The South Carolina Department of Corrections said Bailey worked at Lieber Correctional Institution in Ridgeville for 22 years. The facility is a level three, all male facility that maintains death row for the entire state.

Friends and family said Bailey was well-respected because he was a hard worker. They said after retiring as a corrections officer, he managed a Walmart in Summerville.

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