The family of a South Carolina teen shot to death by a police officer has requested federal intervention in his case.
Zachary Hammond, 19, was fatally shot by a police officer July 26 while in the parking lot of a Hardee’s fast-food restaurant in Seneca, South Carolina, according to Eric Bland, one of the attorneys representing the teen’s family.
In a statement, the attorneys requested that the Justice Department, U.S. Attorney’s Office and FBI intervene in the ongoing investigation due to what they called “the substantial violations of his civil rights” and the need for a “transparent and independent investigation of the Seneca Police Department.”
“The Hammond family hopes and trusts that the United States Justice Department will investigate the death of their son with the same intensity and thoroughness as it has demonstrated in other interracial settings,” read the statement.
Seneca’s police chief says the officer was attempting to arrest Hammond when the teen, who was unarmed, accelerated the car and drove toward the officer, forcing the officer to shoot in self-defense.
But an attorney for Hammond’s family says an independent autopsy commissioned by the family determined that the car wasn’t moving when the teen was shot in the back.
Zachary’s parents believe local authorities have been less than forthcoming about what happened.
“I just don’t feel that the Seneca police department is being honest about a lot of things. Their stories keep changing,” said Angie Hammond. “We just lost a lot of confidence — confidence that we did have with the police.”
“We’ve had no interaction with the City of Seneca,” according to Paul Hammond. “All the facts we know is that our son was there in the parking lot, and he was shot in the back by a Seneca police officer — unarmed.”
The South Carolina Law Enforcement Division has taken over the investigation and collected the handgun used in the shooting as evidence.
Kathryn Richardson, a spokeswoman for SLED, said the investigation is continuing. Richardson also confirmed there is dashcam video of the incident, but would not say when it would be released.
The shooting of the white teen comes amidst the fallout of other high-profile cases in which black teenagers have been killed by white cops
“I believe the national attention would have been quicker responding (if Zachary was black),” Hammond said. “I think all young lives matter, not just black or white. An unarmed teenager, it should matter just as much.”