On Wednesday, Sean Groubert was arrested and charged with aggravated assault and battery over a shooting incident that took place September 4th near Columbia, South Carolina. Groubert, who was a lance corporal with the state’s Highway Patrol before being fired due to the shooting, shot at Lavar Jones (who is black) multiple times after the driver went into his car to retrieve his driver’s license after Groubert (who is white) instructed him to do so. Jones was shot in the hip and has since been released from the hospital. Groubert is facing 20 years in prison if convicted.
What makes this story extremely important is that Groubert’s patrol vehicle was equipped with a dash cam, which caught the entire incident on video. It helps to underscore how necessary it is for our law enforcement to have cameras either in their vehicles or on their persons. Below is the video of Groubert shooting Jones.
Obviously, per the video, you can see that Groubert acted in an extremely irrational and, quite frankly, idiotic manner. He tells the driver to get his license. When Jones casually goes into his vehicle to get said license, Groubert unloads on him from an extremely close range without warning. He just shoots, with no sense of hesitation. After Groubert is done shooting at the driver, Jones seems rightfully confused and dumbfounded over what just happened. He is telling Groubert that he was just getting his license as he was told. Groubert tries to justify it by telling Jones to never reach into your car in front of a cop.
It is apparent from watching the video that Groubert is completely at fault and Jones did nothing to warrant being shot at multiple times. The trooper’s incompetence at his job is mindboggling, and one wonders how he managed to attain the rank of lance corporal with the Highway Patrol. It seems for all the world that Groubert saw a black man moving his hands and body and automatically thought “SHOOT!” The fact that a highway patrolman is going into a routine traffic stop with the mindset that he needs to be ready to shoot right away is downright disturbing.
The real takeaway is this: What would have happened to Groubert if his car did not have a dash cam? Would we see any charges filed against him? Would Jones somehow have been charged with something to help cover up Groubert’s overly aggressive actions? While one would like to think justice will always prevail, the cynic states that a black man in the South shot at by a white cop with only the two men’s words to go by would likely have not ended well for the black man. Thankfully, in this instance, there was a camera that caught the whole incident.
In the aftermath of Michael Brown’s shooting in Ferguson, as well as countless other shooting deaths at the hands of police officers over the years, it is high time that all law enforcement personnel in this nation are equipped with dash and/or body cameras.
Justin Baragona is the Managing Editor at Politicus Sports as well as Senior Editor at PoliticusUSA. He was a political writer for 411Mania.com before joining PoliticusUSA. Politically, Justin considers himself a liberal but also a realist and pragmatist. Currently, Justin lives in St. Louis, MO and is married. Besides writing, he also runs his own business after spending a number of years in the corporate world. You can follow Justin on Twitter either with his personal handle (@justinbaragona) or the Sports site’s (@PoliticusSports).