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Family of US man killed by police chief vows to seek justice

January 13, 2015

ORANGEBURG, South Carolina (AP) — Relatives of an unarmed black man who was shot and killed by a white South Carolina police chief said Tuesday they will continue to seek justice for their loved one.

A judge declared a mistrial in the murder trial after the jury had deliberated for 12 hours and said it was deadlocked.

Richard Combs was charged after shooting Bernard Bailey three times in May 2011.

A statement released by Carl Grant, the Bailey family’s attorney, said the family will not be dissuaded in their pursuit of justice. Prosecutor David Pascoe said he will evaluate his case but plans to try Combs again.

Pascoe said nine jurors voted to convict Combs. “We just had three jurors we couldn’t convince,” he said.

The shooting happened as Combs was trying to arrest Bailey on an obstruction of justice warrant.

The defense said the shooting had nothing to do with race and argued Combs fired when caught in the door of Bailey’s moving truck.

During closing arguments, Pascoe said Combs was confident he would never be held responsible for killing Bailey because he was a police officer.

Pascoe said Combs could have stepped away from the truck but instead stood and fired three shots into Bailey. The prosecutor said the truck was stopped and Bailey was trying to give up.

But Combs’ lawyer said all that mattered was that the chief feared for his life during the three seconds it took to shoot. He said Combs had no pepper spray or Taser and no option but his gun.

Eutawville suspended Combs after the shooting and dismissed him several months later. The town reached a $400,000 wrongful death settlement with Bailey’s family.

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