After a Mauldin man was shot to death outside of the Greenville County Law Enforcement Center in January by officers, his family is taking time to remember him and search for answers about his death.
Authorities said Wesley Swilling, 31, threatened to kill officers with what turned out to be a hot glue gun. Authorities said a Greenville County deputy and Greenville police officer shot Swilling seven times as they said he continued to refuse orders to put what appeared to be a gun down and continued to approach them in an aggressive and threatening manner.
On Sunday, Swilling's family showed a different side to the man many know little about at a public vigil honoring his memory at Springfield park in Mauldin, where he used to play sports. His family described Swilling as someone who couldn't even hurt a fly. They said he was nonviolent, didn't even like guns and was a role model to children.
"He had an infectious smile, when he came into a room he would light the room up," said his father, Kim Swilling.
His family said there's an empty space in their hearts for their loyal and talented loved one, and so many unanswered questions making it difficult to move on.
"I'd just like some explanation as a father, I'd like to know what protocol is, why they couldn't have tazered him or took him down some other way?" asked Kim Swilling.
His family members said they aren't holding a grudge against officers, they don't know why Swilling was at the LEC in the first place and they don't understand what happened.
"The majority of the shots were on his back when I viewed his body," said Kim Swilling. "I was told he was retreating, not advancing."
His family is working to keep his memory alive in the way they knew him and loved him.
"We want to celebrate the things he's done that are positive; a tragic ending is not what we want him to be remembered for," said his cousin, Christy Batson.
FOX Carolina contacted law enforcement Sunday for a response to the family's questions. The sheriff's office representative said there are many questions they also hope will be answered as the State Law Enforcement Division continues to investigate the shooting.
The Greenville County Sheriff's Office stated their deputy was justified in using deadly force as he believed he was in imminent danger.
Copyright 2013 FOX Carolina (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved.
Friday, May 17 2013 11:20 PM EDT2013-05-18 03:20:45 GMT
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