AIKEN — A judge decided Thursday not to make public a video of the traffic stop that led to the shooting death of an Aiken police officer until after the trial of the suspect.
South Carolina 2nd Judicial Circuit Judge Jack Early said he wanted to ensure that Stephon Carter, 19, gets a fair trial in the December slaying of Aiken Master Public Safety Officer Scotty Richardson.
Last month, Early granted a request for a temporary restraining order from defense attorney Carl B. Grant to keep the tape made from a dashboard camera from being released. Solicitor J. Strom Thurmond Jr. agreed with Grant’s motion.
On Thursday, Early asked whether there were any lawyers in the courtroom to represent interests of the news media.
After no one went forward, Early said he had examined the law and the facts of the case and had determined that a permanent restraining order should be granted until after the case is tried.
Carter was not at Thursday’s hearing. He is being held without bond at the Aiken County Detention Center on charges of murder and attempted murder.
Police say Carter was a passenger in Chevrolet Impala that was stopped the night of Dec. 20 by Officer Travis Griffin on Brandt Court in connection with a report of shots being fired at another location a few minutes earlier.
Griffin was joined at the scene by Richardson and Sgt. Tracy Seymour not long after the car was stopped. Authorities say Carter got out of the car with his hands in his pockets and then pulled out a .38-caliber Rossi revolver and fired. Griffin was hit first, in the chest. Richardson, shot in the abdomen and head, died later at Medical College of Georgia Hospital.
After the hearing, Grant said the judge’s ruling was necessary to prevent prejudicing the opinions of future jurors, although he would not say the video was damaging to his case.
“We don’t want to try this case in the media,” Grant said.