Three Upstate newspapers say they are suing the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division to get dash camera video released from the night Seneca teen, Zach Hammond, was shot and killed by a police officer.
7 on your side’s Addie Hampton spoke to Hammond’s mother, Angie. She said something’s got to give.
“They could get rid of all of this by just showing the video,” she said.
For 11 weeks and counting, Angie Hammond has begged, pleaded, cried and petitioned for that video. She wants to know what happened the night Zach was shot and killed by Lt. Mark tiller in the parking lot of Hardees.
The State Law Enforcement Division, the investigating agency, says the dash cam video is good, but what it shows, nobody knows except them, the Seneca Police Department and the Tenth Circuit Solicitors office.
“What’s so sad about this is that it’s taken a lawsuit from the media to try and get the video released,” said Hammond.
Despite freedom of information act requests and a completed investigation, media requests for the video haven’t been filled. Now, the Greenville News, The Independent Mail and The Journal of Seneca are fighting back and hoping their lawsuits will speed up the release.
Angie Hammond is fed up.
“You shouldn’t have to spend money for a lawsuit in order to get something released that should be released in the first place,” said Hammond.
Despite feeling stonewalled by police, SLED and the city of Seneca, she keeps fighting for her son, though she admits reliving the worst day of her life all the time is taking a toll.
“I shouldn’t have to. I shouldn’t have to fight to know what happened to my son. It’s just not right,” she said through tears.
At Clemson University, two professors have developed their own opinions about the Zach Hammond case. This week, they petitioned the Seneca council by asking questions and demanding answers.
“To watch the silence of our public officials in the face of not releasing a tape is astonishing to me,” said Dr. Todd May.
While the city says it is too soon to comment, May believes the silence is only doing harm to the city of Seneca’s reputation.
“It seems to me, the case, if the tape comes out and it doesn’t vindicate Zachary Hammond, then I don’t think it’s going to have any credibility. People are going to assume it was doctored,” he said.
Dr. Chenjerai Kuyamyika agrees.
“You don’t start out thinking that someone is guilty, but when people continue to hide information and not be transparent, eventually it starts to look bad,” he said.
7 On Your Side reached out to the State Law Enforcement Division for comment about the lawsuit. They said they don’t comment when lawsuits are involved.