S.C. Attorney General’s Office requests federal review of McCree case

(COLUMBIA, S.C.) – June 13, 2020 – South Carolina Attorney General Alan Wilson today announced that he has requested that the U.S. Attorney’s Office review the findings in the shooting death of Ariane McCree last November in the parking lot of Walmart in Chester.

“Our office studied the video evidence and reviewed witnesses’ statements that were in the report provided to us by SLED and concluded that Mr. McCree was pointing a gun at police, which put their lives and innocent bystanders in danger. This led our office to the conclusion that the shooting was justified, but because of continued questions from his family and the community and in the interest of full transparency, we’re asking another outside agency to review the case and our findings,” Attorney General Wilson said.

Our press release on March 20, 2020 provided a detailed description of the events of that day. You can read that HERE, but here’s a recap:

McCree was at the Walmart earlier that day, took an item without paying for it, told the cashier, “Put it on my tab” and then walked out. He returned later that day and store security officers arrested him and took him to the security office. Our investigation determined that the store security officers were off-duty Chester Police officers and did not have on body cameras.

The security officers searched McCree and placed him in handcuffs. When one of the store security officers left to get the supervisor, McCree, a former college football player, rammed himself into the remaining store security officer and ran out of the store, which is shown on Walmart security footage. The store security officers had already called the Chester Police to come pick up McCree on the shoplifting charge.

The store security officer pursued McCree into the parking lot, at which time McCree attacked again, head-butting the store security officer multiple times before running away again. Several witnesses saw McCree go into his car and get a gun out of the car. Two witnesses say that, despite being handcuffed with his hands behind him, McCree moved his hands to his side and was pointing the gun at the store security officer.

The store security officer heard a witness say, “He has a gun,” then saw the gun himself and says he saw McCree’s eyes locked on him and thought McCree “had full intentions of killing me.” The store security officer then drew his weapon and fired several shots at McCree.

An on-duty Chester Police officer who was already on his way to pick up McCree on the shoplifting charge arrived about that time in the parking lot and heard a radio call of “Shots fired!” He then located McCree, who was pointing his gun at him. Since he was the only on-duty officer, his body camera footage is the only video of the shooting. That video shows the on-duty officer firing and McCree falling. The footage does not have audio. The video shows that, as the on-duty officer approached McCree after the shooting, McCree was still holding the gun at his side and the officer had to forcefully pull the gun out of his hand.

The on-duty officer then applied pressure to the gunshot wound to McCree’s chest and called for an ambulance. McCree died from his injuries.

“This was a tragic ending to what should have been a simple arrest for shoplifting,” Attorney General Wilson said. “However, when Mr. McCree was pointing a gun at officers, they acted to defend themselves and everyone else in that parking lot. This office is concerned about the perceptions many people throughout South Carolina and the country have about the law enforcement community. That is why we have been as transparent as possible. This includes having a lengthy meeting with the McCree family, their lawyer, and SLED in March to show them and go over all the video and evidence before we announced our decision not to prosecute.  Knowing this was a complicated set of facts, we also published a press release at that time to explain our decision not to prosecute. Now, we’re requesting that an additional outside agency review everything in hopes that doing so will answer any questions or concerns the family and community have.”

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