Sheriff Steve Loftis discusses the June 2 shooting. (June 27, 2014/FOX Carolina)
A 2013 photo of Jordan Browder from a TN arrest. (Source: Bradley Co. Sheriff's Office)
GREENVILLE, SC (FOX Carolina) -
The Greenville County sheriff held a press conference on Friday to announce that a deputy who fatally shot an unarmed man acted according to protocol, fearing for his life, earlier in June.
On June 2, deputies said they received a 911 call from the Citgo on Piedmont Highway just south of Interstate 85 about a car parked at the pumps with people not moving inside for about two hours.
As deputies approached the vehicle, Sheriff Steve Loftis said they could see two men slumped over and a gun inside. At first deputies thought there may be a gunshot victim, Loftis said, and set up a roadblock, securing the scene and requesting paramedics.
As they yelled at the men to show their hands, Lofts said the driver complied and got out of the car but the passenger did not.
He said deputies continued to yell at him and the man, 22-year-old Jordan Browder, awoke, sat straight up, made eye contact with a deputy and began moving around the vehicle, refusing to comply.
Lofts said Browder suddenly shoved the door open, jumped out, was wearing groves, looked down at his waistband as if he was trying to retrieve something. He said Master Deputy Stan Whitten recognized that as "consistent behavior with someone trying to draw a weapon."
When Browder approached the deputy "aggressively" and refused to follow commands, Loftis said Whitten fearing for his life was forced to fire three shots, hitting Browder twice in the chest.
According to Loftis, Browder fell to his knees, but as Whitten tried to handcuff him, he continued to resist, requiring additional deputies to take him into custody.
Browder died at the scene and was discovered to be unarmed, according to deputies.
When asked if Browder was on drugs at the time of the shooting, Loftis said the men had been on a "two-day meth binge." Anderson County deputies said Browder, Tiller and a third suspect had been involved in several break-ins on May 31 and June 1.
Whitten has been with the sheriff's office since 2007 and returned to full duty on Friday after Loftis said their investigation revealed he followed procedures, concluding Browder posed a direct threat to all of the deputies.
"Master Deputy Stan Whitten was justified in using deadly force," said Loftis.
Loftis said their investigation revealed Browder had earlier been carrying a handgun in his waistband, where he was reaching when deputies were giving him commands to comply.
"Had Browder complied with the deputies commands, we would not be here today," Loftis said.
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