Black Lives Matter

Cop Pleads Guilty to Shooting Unarmed Black Man Trying To Hand Him Identification He Asked For

Sean Groubert, a former South Carolina state trooper, pled guilty March 14 to assault and battery of a high and aggravated nature, a single charge resulting from an incident where, while on duty as a trooper, he shot Levar Jones, who was unarmed and trying to give him the identification he asked for. Jones was shot in the hip and survived, but now uses a cane to walk. Groubert is white and Jones is black.

Composite of Sean Groubert in a formal picture in his uniform and Levar Jones speaking on a television set

Sean Groubert (L), Levar Jones (R)

After the shooting, Jones’s family released a statement reading, in part:

In just a few seconds, the notion of life did not exist for LeVar as he heard gunshots coming from Officer Groubert at the gas station, based on no trigger or instigation except the color of his skin, or perhaps, his unyielding compliance.

The entire incident was captured on the dashcam video of Groubert’s patrol car.

On September 4, 2014, Jones was on his way home from work as a medical courier, and pulled into a gas station in Columbia, SC. Groubert had performed a traffic stop at the gas station and was about to leave. Groubert saw that Jones’s seatbelt was unbuckled (in the video, Jones says he unbuckled it in the gas station parking lot), put his patrol car into reverse, and pulled up to Jones.

“Can I see your license please?” Groubert announced over his car’s loudspeaker. Jones turned around to pick up his wallet, and Groubert leapt out of the car shooting, screaming “get out of the car!” Groubert fired four shots, hitting only once, and continuing after Jones had thrown his hands up and was backing away.

Groubert ordered Jones on the ground and to put his hands behind his back, and Jones complied, while explaining that he was trying to get his license and apologizing for going back inside the car.

Groubert, however, told the story differently. In a radio call to his supervisor, he said that Groubert “jumped head-first back into his car,” then “jumped out,” and “kept coming towards him.

Groubert’s attorney, Barney Giese, attributed his client’s conduct to PTSD from a 2012 car chase where the suspect exchanged fire with Groubert and another trooper.

Groubert was fired two weeks after the incident, and subsequently worked as a truck driver. He and his wife, Morgan Groubert, were arrested for shoplifting October 18, 2015. Sean Groubert was subsequently placed under a limited house arrest; upon his March 14 conviction, he was held in custody awaiting sentencing. He faces up to 20 years.

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