BEAUFORT COUNTY, South Carolina -- A South Carolina Highway Patrol trooper has been fired after he shot his weapon while attempting to pull over a Beaufort County man for disregarding a traffic signal in October.
Trooper J.W. Ward, of Troop 6, was terminated Nov. 8 after an internal investigation revealed the Beaufort County man Ward pursued did not pose an immediate threat to Ward’s safety or others during the Oct. 1 traffic stop on Highway 21 between Roseida Road and the Marine Corps Air Station, according to a statement from Capt. Roger Hughes.
Specifically, the investigation found that Ward’s actions “were not in line with his training or the department’s Emergency Response/Vehicle and Foot Pursuit policy,” Hughes said in a statement.
Immediately following the incident, the SCHP suspended Ward without pay as South Carolina Department of Public Safety Office of Professional Responsibility and State Law Enforcement Division (SLED) investigated, according to Hughes. Ward had worked at the SCHP since 2017.
Around 8:30 p.m Oct. 1, a trooper turned on his lights after seeing a driver disregard a traffic signal on Highway 21, according to the SCHP.
“The vehicle failed to stop and the trooper began a pursuit of the fleeing vehicle,” the SCHP news release said.
The driver lost control during the pursuit, which stopped his vehicle.
“The trooper approached the vehicle and during that time, he discharged his department-issued firearm,” the release said.
The suspect then drove into Colleton County and eventually crashed after troopers used maneuvers to disable the vehicle, the release says.
No one was injured, the release says.
The suspect was arrested and charged with disregarding a traffic control device, failing to stop for a blue light, driving under suspension and operating with an uninsured, expired vehicle license.
SLED continues to investigate the incident, according to Hughes.
The chase was the 36th officer-involved shooting in the state in 2019. It is the second involving the S.C. Highway Patrol.
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