Accused Aiken police officer shooter denied bond

Stephon M. Carter

 

AIKEN — The man charged in the slaying of an Aiken Public Safety officer was denied bond in Aiken County General Sessions Court on Thursday.

South Carolina 2nd Judicial Circuit Judge Jack Early said Stephon M. Carter was a danger to the community and could not be trusted to return to court if granted bond on charges of murder and attempted murder in the fatal shooting of Master Public Safety Officer Scotty Richardson and wounding of Officer Travis Griffin.

Carter, 19, did not appear in court but was represented by his attorney, Carl B. Grant, of Orangeburg, who asked the judge to set a bond between $50,000 and $100,000 for his client.

He said Carter has a girlfriend who is 5 months pregnant and was baptized in the church just a few months before his arrest. He asked that Carter be released to return to the home of his maternal grandmother, where he has lived since his mother was killed by Carter’s father in 1993.

“Denial of bond is tantamount to pretrial confinement,” Grant said, explaining it would be unfair to punish his client before charges are proven in court.

Solicitor J. Strom Thurmond Jr. did not agree, stating that he opposed bond “in the strongest terms,” after going over the events that led to the Dec. 20 shootout on Brandt Court in Aiken.

Thurmond said the shootout was preceded by a report of gunfire on Teague Street, in which a witness who heard the shots told Griffin that she saw Carter leaving the scene in a black Chevrolet Impala.

Thurmond said Griffin found the Impala about 10 minutes later on Beaufort Street. After the car turned right on Camillia Street, Griffin activated his blue lights and the car turned right again onto Brandt Court, which leads into the Pace’s Run apartment complex.

Thurmond said Griffin found two other people in the car with Carter, who was in the front passenger seat. Griffin was joined at the scene by Sgt. Tracy Seymour and Richardson not long after the car was stopped, he said. Thurmond said Carter got out of the car with his hands in his pockets. It was after an officer asked him to show his hands when Carter pulled out a .38-caliber Rossi revolver and began firing, he said. Griffin was hit first in the chest, but his bulletproof vest protected him from serious injury.

Carter then moved to his right and continued to shoot, Thurmond said.

Seymour and Griffin returned fire, but Richardson never discharged his weapon. He was shot twice, in the abdomen and in the head, Thurmond said.

Thurmond said Carter ran between apartment buildings and the shootout was joined by two other Aiken officers, Chris Lind and Oliver Hadden. Thurmond said Lind fired the shot that brought down Carter at a distance of almost 70 yards. Carter was hit in the buttocks, but the bullet caused serious damage, his attorney said.

Carter, who was taken to Medical College of Georgia Hospital after the shooting, now has a colostomy bag, “which may be permanent,” Grant said.

South Carolina Law Enforcement Division investigators also found two more weapons and ammunition in the Impala, Thurmond said.

After the judge denied Grant’s bond request, Early also ruled on a request by Grant to withhold the release of video from the Aiken patrol cars involved in the shootout.

Early granted a temporary restraining order blocking the release of any such evidence until a hearing on the issue, to be scheduled later this month.

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