Trooper who hit suspect calls crash an 'accident'

GREENVILLE, S.C. — A South Carolina state trooper accused of deliberately running down a suspect with his cruiser said Wednesday the crash was "an unavoidable accident" and that he regretted bragging about it afterward.

"It's a collision that I'm sorry took place," Lance Cpl. Steven Garren said on the second day of his federal trial.

Lance Cpl. Garren is charged with using unreasonable force and depriving suspect Marvin Grant of his civil rights. Lance Cpl. Garren is white; Mr. Grant is black.

A conviction could bring Lance Cpl. Garren up to 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.

The trial hinges on a key video of the collision that shows Mr. Grant sprinting from the patrol car, then being hit and flipping over the hood. On the recording, Lance Cpl. Garren says to a deputy: "Yeah, I hit him. I was trying to hit him."

Lance Cpl. Garren said his statements embarrassed himself, his family and his department.

"The statement itself is not true. But I did say the statement," he said. "It's just a dumb, stupid statement."

The officer also said Mr. Grant ran in front of the cruiser "probably in the blink of an eye."

"It was an unavoidable accident," he said.

Earlier in the day, federal prosecutors wrapped up their case with a frame-by-frame analysis of the video.

A witness for the prosecution said Lance Cpl. Garren steered his patrol car twice into Mr. Grant's path.

Crash reconstruction expert Geoffrey Germane said when Mr. Grant suddenly cut to the right in front of the cruiser, Lance Cpl. Garren steered the car toward the suspect a second time and hit him.

Lance Cpl. Garren's attorneys argued there were assumptions and flaws in Mr. Germane's report and have said the trooper tried to avoid hitting Mr. Grant.

The defense is expected to focus on whether the trooper had enough time to react to Mr. Grant's sudden turn.