The family of a 19-year-old man who was fatally shot by a South Carolina police officer last year drew a settlement for $2.15 million against the city of Seneca to compensate for the wrongful death of their son.
The settlement, approximately ten times more than the amount offered last week by city leaders, came about as federal officials looked closer at the officer’s actions. State prosecutors have mentioned that they don’t plan to pursue separate charges.
Eric Bland, the attorney for the family of Zachary Hammond, announced the settlement agreement in a news release Tuesday. He and Hammond’s parents planned to discuss the matter Wednesday afternoon at a news conference. City attorneys did not immediately return to messages requesting their views on the matter.
The settlement doesn’t assign blame to any members of the city police force, the police chief or the officer who fatally shot the unarmed teenager in an attempted undercover drug arrest on July 26. The officer said that he fired because he was afraid of Hammond’s rapidly approaching vehicle. Both Hammond and the officer were white males.
According to the family’s wrongful death lawsuit, filed last year, Mark Tiller, the officer in question, treated to decapitate Hammond before shooting him. After his death, the other officer gave the dead teen’s body a “high-five.”
Dashcam video footage shows Tiller yelling at Hammond to put up his hands and stop his car, but Hammond refused to cooperate with police demands; instead driving away before being killed. The officer latched onto the left front fender of the gray sedan as the car kept moving, and shoots as the car was in motion. The camera does not pick up a view of the proceeding events, but the audio picks up the sounds of crying and yelling–presumably from the teen and the officer. Tiller has previously said through his attorney that he thought Hammond had threatened to run him over, and simply fired in self-defense. Local prosecutors have said that Tiller’s actions was disproportionate to the crime committed, and that the officer had no reason to fire his gun.
The city had offered a $250,000 settlement last week, however, the investigation remains ongoing.