Mistrial declared for former police chief who killed unarmed black man

ORANGEBURG, South Carolina (AP) — A South Carolina judge declared a mistrial early Tuesday in the case of a white ex-police chief charged with murder in the shooting death an unarmed black man.

The jury deliberated for 12 hours before telling Circuit Judge Edgar Dickson early in the morning they were deadlocked.

Former Eutawville (yoo-TAH-vill) Police Chief Richard Combs was charged after shooting Bernard Bailey three times in May 2011.

Prosecutor David Pascoe said he will evaluate his case but plans to try Combs again.

“I’m going to take a little time, but we’re going forward,” Pascoe said.

Pascoe said nine out of 12 jurors had voted to convict Combs.

The shooting happened as Combs was trying to arrest Bailey on an obstruction of justice warrant prosecutors contended was trumped-up.

The defense said the shooting had nothing to do with race and argued Combs fired in self-defense when he was caught in the door of Bailey’s moving truck.

During closing arguments, Pascoe said Combs frequently changed his story to match the evidence and was confident he would never be held responsible for killing Bailey because he was a police officer.

Eutawville suspended Combs after the shooting and dismissed him several months later. The town reached a $400,000 wrongful death settlement with Bailey’s family.

Although Combs was white and Bailey was black, race hasn’t been front and center of the case. Pascoe contends Combs was angry at Bailey for just trying to show him up.


Follow Jeffrey Collins on Twitter at @JSCollinsAP

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