Can South Carolina’s police culture be fixed?


When Levar Jones settled with the state of South Carolina in October 2014, the amount seemed surprisingly low — less than $300,000. Jones was shot at four times by state Highway Patrol officer Sean Groubert five months earlier during a traffic stop for a seatbelt violation. Dash-cam video from Groubert’s patrol car showed no provocation from Jones. Groubert asked Jones for his driver’s license, and as Jones reached into his truck to retrieve it, Groubert panicked, then shot at him four times.

The shooting made national news, bore the marks of racial profiling and suggested that Groubert may not have been properly trained. Groubert’s personnel file showed that he had previously been involved in a harrowing shootout and may not have received appropriate counseling and treatment after the incident. The lingering trauma from the incident might have contributed to why he saw a threat in Jones’s innocuous actions. Insufficient training resulting in foreseeable incidents such as the Jones shooting can form the basis of what’s known as a Monell claim against the employing government agency. Yet in the end, Jones’s settlement was $285,000, a paltry figure that likely won’t cover his medical expenses. <Read More>