Seneca officer on administrative leave after deadly shooting - FOX Carolina 21

Seneca officer on administrative leave after deadly shooting

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Zachary Hammond (Courtesy: Hammond family/ July 27, 2015) Zachary Hammond (Courtesy: Hammond family/ July 27, 2015)
Zachary Hammond (Courtesy: Hammond family/ July 27, 2015) Zachary Hammond (Courtesy: Hammond family/ July 27, 2015)
SENECA, SC (FOX Carolina) -

Blue lights from police cruisers lit up the area near Hardee's fast food restaurant on Highway 123 in Seneca on Sunday night.

Investigators said a Seneca police officer shot and killed 19-year-old Zachary Hammond.

"He was a uniformed officer, he was in a marked vehicle, was out of his vehicle on foot approaching the suspect vehicle - weapon drawn given it was a narcotics type violation," Seneca Police Chief John Covington said.

On Monday, Covington said he couldn't say much about the shooting because agents with the S.C. Law Enforcement Division have taken over the case. However, Covington did say the incident stemmed from an undercover drug investigation.

Covington said the officer attempted to arrest Hammond when Hammond accelerated the car and drove toward the officer. 

"He fired two shots in self-defense," Covington said of the officer.

Hammond's family wants answers. They want to know if there are any witnesses or others who may have information about the case.

Seneca police arrested Tori Morton, a passenger in the car, and charged her with simple possession of marijuana.

"It's a horrible situation," Covington said.

He said officers are placed in a "predicament" in which they have to use deadly force. 

Covington said the officer who fatally shot Hammond is hurting, too.

"We ended up with a very horrible ending to his and our heart does go out to his family," Covington said.

Covington said Monday he would not release the officer's name, but did say he's on administrative leave.

He said the officer has worked at the Seneca Police Department for more than five years and has prior law enforcement experience.

The coroner said Hammond was shot twice, near the chest and collarbone-shoulder. The gunshot wound to the chest was fatal. 

The coroner said the wounds were consistent with a .45 caliber handgun, which are used by Seneca Police and the weapon collected by SLED as evidence late Sunday night. 

Hammond's family released a statement:

"We are obviously grieving the loss of our son. This is a most difficult time and the facts as we have been told and reported are in conflict. We are conducting our own investigation as to the circumstances of this tragic and unnecessary death". 

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