The parents of a Seneca teen shot killed by a police officer are speaking out about their son’s death and why they say it wasn’t a justified shooting. They say it was murder.
7 on your side’s Addie Hampton sat down with Zachary Hammond’s parents to learn more about their fight for justice.
“Zachary was a real person. He’s my son. Somebody has to answer,” said Paul Hammond through tears.
It’s a plea that he and wife, Angie Hammond, say has fallen on deaf ears.
“What caused the officer to decide what he needed to do was take my 19 year old son’s life,” asked Paul Hammond. “It’s a struggle right now, every day, just not knowing.”
19 year old Zach Hammond was shot and killed by a Seneca police officer July 26th in the parking lot of Hardees off U.S.123. Police Chief John Covington said the officer fired twice into Hammond’s open driver side window, acting in self defense because Hammond drove his car toward the officer.
Hammond’s attorney, Eric Bland, says there’s no way, based on where he was shot.
“After Coroner Addis said he believed that the shots came from the back and the side and that our client was actually murdered, we felt it was going to be necessary to have an independent autopsy performed,” said Bland.
The private autopsy results, released Wednesday, back up Oconee County Coroner Karl Addis’ report.
“By the very definition of the evidence itself, the officer could not have been in fear for his life, because he was shooting from the back,” said Bland.
As for using the term “murder”, Addis released a statement saying he said “homicide”, which is a legal term that doesn’t differentiate between criminal and justified killing.
Bland says he and two others are willing to testify otherwise.
“It came from his mouth and it was extraordinary to hear that as a lawyer from an official,” said Bland.
The Hammonds and Bland say this is about transparency and appropriate force by police. The officer’s name has not yet been released and the police department is standing by their officer as a victim of attempted murder.
“Until this justice system wraps its arms around this officer and gets him to talk, we have no other option but keep exploring with the press,” said Bland.
Wednesday, 7 on your side asked Chief Covington if he wanted comment following this latest autopsy report. He said he didn’t have anything to add.
As for the Hammonds, they say this may not give them closure, but it’s a way to speak for their son who can’t speak for himself.
“I just loved him so much. He’s not this person that they are trying to make him out to be,” said Angie Hammond.
The South Carolina Law Enforcement division says they are continuing to investigate this case.