GREENVILLE, S.C. (AP) — A prosecutor is not charging two police officers who shot and killed a man who grabbed a gun after he refused to get out of a car with a stolen tag in a South Carolina motel parking.
The only video of the Feb. 11 shooting is a surveillance camera video from the motel parking lot which did not have a clear view of what Jason Mendez did just before he was shot, Solicitor Walt Wilkins said at a news conference Tuesday.
But one of the three officers at the Super Lodge Motel was wearing a microphone, and Wilkins said when the video and the audio are synched, he could hear all three of them yell “Gun!” and scramble behind cover as two Greenville County deputies fired.
“Their statements are consistent. They saw it in his hands, moving in an upward motion. We’re talking seconds — half of seconds,” Wilkins said.
The prosecutor showed Mendez’s family the video earlier Tuesday. Bruce Wilson, a family spokesman and founder of community group Fighting Injustice Together, said the officers should have given Mendez more time to get out of the car.
“Look how quick this escalated,” Wilson told reporters after seeing the video.
But Wilkins said officers demanded Mendez and a woman with him get out of the car for three minutes before breaking the window. An officer first approached the car around 2 a.m. when he found out it had a stolen tag.
“What would you like law enforcement to do?” Wilkins said. “You can’t leave a stolen car sitting there with two individuals and walk away.”
Mendez, 37, was a felon and couldn’t legally have a gun. Methamphetamine was found in his fanny pack and an autopsy determined he had well over a possible lethal dose of meth in his system when he was killed, Wilkins said.
Mendez’s fiance was in the car with him and was not hurt, the prosecutor said.
Mendez’s family also said it was suspicious that much more of her DNA was found on the gun than Mendez’s DNA.
Wilkins said investigators spoke to the man who sold Mendez the gun and found a holster for the weapon under Mendez’s shirt. He said there was a lot of chaos after Mendez was shot as the fiance frantically grabbed him before she was pulled from the car.
“DNA, like fingerprints are a funny thing. Sometimes they are there, sometime they are not,” Wilkins said.
The officers and Mendez were all white, according to the State Law Enforcement Division.