Officers cleared in Chester Walmart shooting last November

(COLUMBIA, S.C.) –  March 20, 2020 – The Attorney General’s Office has reviewed the officer-involved shooting that occurred at Walmart at 1691 J.A. Cochran Bypass in Chester on November 23, 2019. The shooting resulted in the death of 28-year-old Ariane McCree. The Attorney General’s Office commends the State Law Enforcement Division for its thorough investigation into the events that unfolded.

A Walmart cashier told investigators he scanned an item for Mr. McCree the morning of November 23rd. McCree took the item, said, “put it on my tab,” and walked out of the store without paying for it. McCree returned to the store later that morning and was detained for shoplifting by Chester Police Department officers who were working off-duty security at Walmart. Officers handcuffed McCree behind his back and took him to the loss prevention office. An officer searched McCree and found a pocketknife and some loose cash. Walmart security footage shows McCree barreled into the officer, opened the door of the office, and fled the building while handcuffed.

The officer called for other officers to respond and pursued McCree on foot in the parking lot.  During the chase, McCree ran at the officer and head butted him before running away again.  The officer briefly lost sight of McCree and directed the other responding officers to form a perimeter to box McCree in the parking lot. Two customers in the parking lot witnessed McCree enter a black car and exit with a firearm in his hand while still handcuffed.

The officer located McCree again when he heard a woman yell that he had a gun. The officer stated that McCree then pointed a black and silver pistol at the officer.  In fear of his life and the lives of pedestrians in the parking lot, the officer drew his weapon and fired several shots at McCree, who fell between two cars. A witness saw McCree stand up and point his gun at the officer again. The officer fired again, ran out of ammunition, and radioed to the other officers for help. This officer was not wearing a body-worn camera, and there is no Walmart video surveillance footage of the shooting confrontation between this officer and McCree. However, witness statements corroborate the officer’s statement.

A second officer, who was responding to Walmart to transport McCree to jail for shoplifting, heard the request for help as he arrived in the parking lot. He immediately exited his patrol car and walked toward the first officer. The second officer then saw McCree, who pointed his handgun at him. Fearing for his life and others, the officer fired his gun at McCree several times and walked toward him. This officer’s body-worn camera footage shows that McCree was shot and collapsed to the ground. The gun McCree was holding cannot be seen in the footage until the officer approaches him on the ground. The video shows that McCree tried to retain control of his black and silver Taurus semi-automatic pistol as the officer struggled to pry the weapon away from him. Once the officer removed the gun from McCree, he applied pressure to his chest wound until EMS arrived. McCree was transported to MUSC-Chester where he was pronounced dead due to a gunshot wound to the chest.

It is clear from both officer and witness statements that McCree pointed his gun at the officers while handcuffed and that the officers then responded by firing their weapons at him. Because the officers acted in self-defense and defense of others present at the scene, the Attorney General’s Office has declined to prosecute the officers.

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