weather icon Clear

White S.C. officer indicted in 2014 shooting death of unarmed black man

CHARLESTON, S.C. — A grand jury in South Carolina indicted a white police officer on Wednesday on a felony charge of firing his weapon into a vehicle while it was occupied, killing an unarmed black man.

Justin Gregory Craven, 24, an officer in North Augusta, South Carolina, chased the unarmed motorist for 13 miles before stopping him on a dirt road behind his home in February 2014, according to a prosecutor.

Craven then got out of his car and approached the motorist, Earnest Satterwhite, 68, and fired at him several times through his car window, killing him, authorities said.

After a grand jury refused to indict Craven on a voluntary manslaughter charge, officials pursued the felony firing charge, said state prosecutor Donnie Myers.

Craven admitted to firing into Satterwhite’s car, according to the arrest warrant. There had been a struggle at the car window, the prosecutor said.

“There’s been no evidence that Mr. Satterwhite was armed,” Myers said.

Craven’s indictment on the weapons charge comes as law-enforcement agencies across the United States face increasing scrutiny over their use of force, particularly against minorities.

A Cleveland police officer was found not guilty on Saturday in the 2012 shooting deaths of an unarmed black man and a woman after a high-speed car chase.

Craven was arrested on April 7, the same day that murder charges were announced against another white South Carolina police officer, Michael Slager, in the shooting death of 50-year-old Walter Scott, an unarmed black man who was running away when Slager fired eight bullets at his back.

An attorney for Craven could not immediately be reached.

The grand jury that refused to indict Craven on a charge of voluntary manslaughter indicted him on misconduct in office. That charge is pending.

The shooting by Craven was captured on videotape by a dashboard camera. Police have not released the footage.

It may not become public until after Craven’s trial, said Thom Berry, a spokesman for the State Law Enforcement Division, noting that defense attorneys have objected to its release.

The felony weapons charge carries a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison and a fine of $1,000, Berry said.

Prosecutors expect the trial to begin in the fall.

Don't miss the big stories. Like us on Facebook.
Cohen campaign finance probe remains active, say prosecutors

Prosecutors aren’t quite finished investigating campaign finance violations by President Donald Trump’s former personal lawyer. A judge is keeping some search warrants sealed.

New abortion laws sow confusion, uncertainty, fear at clinics

Abortion clinics are facing protesters emboldened by a flurry of restrictive new state laws as they reassure confused patients that the laws have yet to take effect.

California reporter wants cops to return his seized property

A San Francisco reporter is seeking the return of his property confiscated by police after officers with a sledgehammer raided his home and his office amid an investigation to determine the source of a leaked police report into the death of the city’s public defender.

‘Medicare for All’s’ rich benefits surpass most other nations

A “Medicare for All” plan embraced by leading 2020 Democrats appears more lavish than what other advanced nations offer, compounding the cost but also potentially broadening its appeal.

Aretha Franklin may have penned 3 wills, left in home

Three handwritten wills have been found in the suburban Detroit home of Aretha Franklin, months after the death of the “Queen of Soul.”

Chicago-area hospital’s role in baby-cutting case questioned

A local sheriff’s office wants to know if a suburban Chicago hospital violated state law by not immediately reporting that a woman who claimed to be the mother of a newborn had not given birth. The woman was later charged with strangling the baby’s mother and cutting the newborn from her womb.

Speedier cleanup of closed nuke plants raises concerns

Companies specializing in nuclear demolition and radioactive waste storage are buying up aging U.S. reactors and promising to decommission them in dramatically less time than their utility owners had planned.

Documents give rare look inside Syrian government crackdown

Documents purportedly found in abandoned Syrian government offices during the civil war reveal the reach of President Bashar Assad’s security agencies, according to a report.