The State Law Enforcement Division (SLED) in South Carolina has declined to release the dash camera footage showing the fatal police shooting of 19-year-old Zachary Hammond by Lieutenant Mark Tiller on the night of July 26. The shooting occurred as part of an undercover drug bust in the parking lot of a Hardee’s restaurant where the unarmed victim was on a date with a 23-year-old woman. He was shot twice and killed in the driver’s seat of his vehicle while eating ice cream cones with his date.
Despite Lieutenant Tiller’s assertion that the shooting was self-defense, it has been ruled a homicide following the autopsies conducted by the investigation and by the family of the deceased. His recounting of the incident cites the shooting as a necessary means of self-defense as he “feared for his life” while the teen drove at the officer in the parking lot. However, the entry of the bullet holes in the body show that he was shot from behind and that the car had to have been stationary at the time the gun was fired.
Despite the proof in the contrary from the autopsies, Lt. Tiller’s lawyers maintain the officer’s original story, stating, “If not for [Tiller’s] quick reflexes and his ability to push off of the car, Lt. Tiller would have easily been run over by Mr. Hammond.”
This, among many other suspicious allegations about the night of the incident have created a media stir. There are witness reports that the teen’s corpse was desecrated at the site of the incident, wherein police officers were reported to hold up the arm and “high five” the body of the deceased following the shooting. There are also claims that an item was removed from Hammond’s trunk and placed under his body at the scene.
While a police video reportedly exists, the SLED has denied its release to the family and to multiple media outlets. Agent Thom Berry issued a statement declining the request because the investigation is still active and the information is sensitive.
It is unclear whether Hammond was involved with the drug bust in any capacity. His date, Toni Morton, was found to have about 10 grams of marijuana on her person and according to Inquisitr, she was known by police to carry drugs. The statement issued by Lt. Tiller also mentions a “white, powdery substance, consistent with cocaine” found on Zachary Hammond’s body.
The victim’s mother, Angie Hammond, said to the press, “this was over a little bit of marijuana. You don’t kill people for marijuana.”
This killing comes during a chain of recent events involving wrongful deaths and brutality due to police misconduct. The Hammond family initially expressed concern that their son’s case would be ignored by the media because the victim was white, though there has been heavy press coverage in the weeks since the homicide.
The Law Offices of Michael S. Lamonsoff has over 20 years of experience representing the victims of police misconduct and the families of those lost to police shootings. We have represented some of the most high profile police shooting victims in recent history, including those at the Empire State Building in 2012. If you or a loved one has been involved in a police shooting or harmed in an instance of police misconduct, you have rights.
Call us at (212) 962-1020 or at 877-975-4529 for a free personal consultation by a police misconduct attorney. We are here 24 hours a day to support your rights.