South Carolina state trooper Sean Groubert was arrested on Wednesday and charged with assault and battery of a high and aggravated nature after a video emerged of him shooting a driver named Levar Jones that he pulled over for a seat belt violation. In the video, Groubert’s vehicle is seen pulling up to a black man exiting a white SUV, and Groubert is heard telling Jones “can I see your license please?” When Jones turns around to recover his license from the vehicle, however, Groubert immediately begins screaming “get out of the car! get out of the car!” and firing his gun at the unarmed man.
What’s striking about this case is how swiftly Groubert escalated the incident from a routine traffic stop to the use of potentially deadly force — and the fact that he did so without any apparent provocation whatsoever. Only four seconds pass between when Groubert asks Jones for his license, and when Groubert fires the first of four shots at the unarmed driver.
The other thing that’s striking about this case, however, is the fact that Groubert will actually face criminal charges for his actions. According to The State, Groubert faces up to 20 years in prison if he is convicted. He was also fired by the highway patrol on Friday.
On the same day that Groubert was charged, a special prosecutor in Beavercreek, Ohio announced that he would not bring charges against officers who shot and killed a man at a Walmart who was carrying a BB gun that is sold at the store. One of the officers involved in that incident is back on the job.
Mr. Jones, the man that Groubert shot, was struck in the hip at least once. He is now out of the hospital and is recuperating.