Lawyer: Witness Saw Cop High-Five Dead Teen's Body

Cops refuse to release video in Zachary Hammond case
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 17, 2015 5:10 AM CDT
Updated Aug 17, 2015 7:00 AM CDT
Lawyer: Witness Saw Cop High-Five Teen's Body
Lawyer Eric Bland released this photo of Hammond.   (Eric Bland)

A lawyer for the family of Zachary Hammond says he has uncovered some disturbing police conduct in the aftermath of the unarmed South Carolina teenager's death. In a 5-page letter sent to Attorney General Loretta Lynch and FBI Director James Comey asking for a federal civil rights investigation, Eric Bland writes that a member of a neighboring police force has "confirmed" to the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division that after an officer shot the teen, "member(s) of the Seneca Police Department lifted his dead hand and 'high fived'" him, Fox Carolina reports. The letter also says a witness saw an officer remove Hammond's body from his car before retrieving something from a police car. The officer then "rolled him over to his side, put something underneath his body, and then rolled him back," the letter states.

Hammond, 19, was shot dead during a drug sting in a Hardee's parking lot on July 26. Police say Hammond drove his car at Lieutenant Mark Tiller in an attempt to run him over; the autopsy shows Hammond was hit in the back and side. In Bland's view, this means Tiller shot from the direction of the side window, and was therefore not in the path of the vehicle. Police dashcam video may show what happened, but police on Friday declined a Post and Courier request to release it under the Freedom of Information Act. The lack of video may be one reason why the case has received less attention than some other recent police shootings, but Bland has repeatedly said that the fact that Hammond is white also plays a role. "If Zachary were black, the outpouring of protest and disappointment from the public and the press would be amazing," he tells the New York Times. "You wouldn't be able to get a hotel room in upstate South Carolina." (Hammond was on a first date when he was killed.)

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