A Greenville police-provided witness and Chief Terri Wilfong spoke Monday about an officer-involved shooting that killed a man in downtown Sunday morning.
The shooting happened at 12:40 a.m. along Brown Street.
Authorities said an officer witnessed a man assaulting another person with a baseball bat. They said officers ordered the man to drop the bat several times. They said the man then charged at the officers, forcing one of them to fire.
The man, later identified as 19-year-old Senovio Maldonado, of Easley, died from his injuries, police said.
On Monday, a man who police said witnessed the shooting, talked about what he called the worst thing he has experienced in his life.
"A car pulled out of a parking lot erratically," said the witness, who police asked the media not to identify out of concern for his safety. "It struck my friend slightly on the side, spun him around (and) he threw his arms up."
The witness then said Maldonado got out of the car, pulled out a baseball bat and began hitting his friend in the head.
"A switch has been flipped," said the witness. "When he looked at me in the eyes, and he was about to hit me with a baseball bat. There was no, 'Hold on a second.' There was no pause."
According to the witness, that was when officers intervened, Maldonado charged at them and the officers fired.
"I feel like he lost it, for seven seconds of his life, and it ended it," the witness said.
However, Maldonado's mother, Dorothy Franco, said officers should have handled the situation differently.
"They could have gotten a leg and arm with the bat," Franco said. "They didn't have to go straight for the kill. They simply murdered my son in cold blood, and I don't care what (any)body says."
Wilfong said she stands behind her officers' decision to shoot Maldonado.
"They went by their training, and they made the best decision they possibly could," Wilfong said. "They had a millisecond to make a decision, and the Taser is not always effective. If it wouldn't have been effective, one of our police officers, now, probably, would have had his head taken off by that bat."
Wilfong said that her officers followed protocol and saved a man's life. She said that Maldonado gave the officers no choice but to shoot him.
"These police officers saved another human being's life, who had been hit repeatedly with a baseball bat."
On Monday, an autopsy revealed that Maldonado died from two gunshot wounds - one to his chest and another to his left side. Investigators said the positions of the wounds supports the officers' version of events.
The two officers involved in the shooting were placed on leave.
The man police said Maldonado beat with the bat was released from the hospital Monday. He suffered non-life-threatening injuries, according to police.
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