NORTH CHARLESTON, S.C. (AP) — The family of a man killed by an officer working for a South Carolina police department that received heavy scrutiny in a fatal shooting two years ago wants any video of the latest shooting released soon.
Local and state investigators said it appeared Lawrence Heyward Jr. was killed after shooting at Police Lt. Richard Keys, who said he saw him entering and leaving a North Charleston convenience store wearing a mask around 11:30 p.m. Sunday before quickly driving off.
Heyward’s family, joined by the advocacy group National Action Network, which monitors how police treat black suspects, said at a news conference Monday that they had no reason to believe authorities weren’t telling the truth. But in April 2015, former North Charleston police officer Michael Slager was charged with murder in the shooting of an unarmed man running away from a traffic stop, and the information contained in the department’s initial news release didn’t match bystander video of the shooting made public later.
Slager and Keys are both white. Heyward and Walter Scott were both black.
“We just want to know what happened. We need to know what happened,” Heyward’s aunt Mattie Smalls said at a news conference Monday.
Keys told investigators that dispatchers told him about the armed robbery at the store as Heyward left wearing the mask, according to a police report.
There was a short car chase and the shooting happened as it appeared Heyward was trying to run away, the report said.
The State Law Enforcement Division is investigating, and spokesman Thom Berry said it wasn’t clear yet whether any dashboard, body or surveillance camera captured the shooting.
The clerk inside the Scotchman convenience store said Heyward demanded money and pulled a gun on her after she told him no. He then grabbed the $160 she was preparing for a deposit and ran, according to the police report.
Heyward’s family said he was a working, family-oriented man who had eight daughters and turned 56 years old last week.
Keys is a 28-year veteran of the North Charleston police force.
North Charleston police fired Slager immediately after he was charged with murder in the shooting of Walter Scott more than two years ago. His state trial on a murder charge ended in a hung jury. But Slager pleaded guilty in federal court earlier this year to violating Scott’s civil rights and is behind bars awaiting sentencing.
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