Former police chief facing retrial in killing of black man

Jun 14, 2015, 7:00 AM

CHARLESTON, S.C. (AP) — When a South Carolina jury first heard the case of a former small town police chief who shot and killed an unarmed black man, the trial lasted six days and the jurors deliberated for 12 hours before telling the judge they had deadlocked.

On Monday, Richard Combs, the white former police chief of Eutawville, will be retried on a murder charge in the May 2011 death of Bernard Bailey. Bailey died outside the small community’s town hall, which also houses the town’s one-man police department.

At the time of Combs’ indictment last December, the case drew comparisons to the shooting of a black man in Ferguson, Missouri, and the chokehold death of a black by police officers in New York City.

At Combs’ first trial in Orangeburg in January, his attorneys had unsuccessfully argued it should be moved. They cited publicity surrounding the case after weeks of protests nationwide over the killings of blacks by white law officers, adding it made it impossible to get a fair trial there.

Since then, there have been other similar cases which have drawn headlines, including the April shooting of Walter Scott, who is black, by a white North Charleston police officer. That shooting was captured on cellphone video.

Circuit Judge Edgar Dickson this month approved a defense request for a change of venue, moving the trial to Columbia in Richland County about 35 miles away. The case will be heard by Circuit Judge Brian Gibbons of Chester with jury selection set to begin Monday.

If convicted of murder, Combs could face 30 years to life without parole. During the first trial, Dickson also allowed the jury to consider voluntary manslaughter. Any conviction on that charge could be punished by two to 30 years in prison.

According to testimony from the first trial, Combs stopped Bailey’s daughter seven weeks before the shooting for having a broken taillight on her car. She then called her father and Bailey came to the scene.

Later Combs secured a warrant for obstruction of justice, alleging Bailey had interfered with the traffic stop. The chief attempted to serve it when Bailey came to the town hall the day before his daughter’s trial.

Witnesses said Bailey then walked out of the building. Combs followed and — the defense said — he got caught in the open door of Bailey’s truck as Bailey tried to drive off. Fearing he would fall under the truck, Combs fired three times in self-defense because he had no pepper spray or stun gun, according to the defense.

Prosecutors argued that Combs was trying to serve a trumped-up warrant, the truck was stopped and he could have stepped away from the door.

Combs was placed on leave after the shooting and the town let him go six months later.

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

United States News

Associated Press

Ex-Ohio court mediator arrested; allegedly sent feces to GOP

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — An Ohio man is in custody after being accused of sending about three-dozen feces-filled letters to lawmakers around the country, including Ohio’s 25 Republican state senators in early July. Police arrested Richard Steinle, a 77-year-old from Mogadore, Ohio, and former Portage County Common Pleas Court mediator on Friday. Steinle is charged […]
12 hours ago
FILE - The sun sets behind the Palais Coburg where closed-door nuclear talks take place in Vienna, ...
Associated Press

Talks to revive Iran nuclear deal end, produce ‘final text’

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) — Talks to revive Tehran’s tattered nuclear accord with world powers in Vienna ended Monday as the parties closed a final text and key negotiators prepared to consult with their capitals, diplomats said. After 16 months of torturous on-and-off indirect negotiations to restore the deal, the European Union’s foreign affairs […]
12 hours ago
FILE - Historian and author David McCullough poses with art by George Catlin, one of the artists fe...
Associated Press

David McCullough, Pulitzer-winning historian, dies at 89

NEW YORK (AP) — David McCullough, the Pulitzer Prize-winning author whose lovingly crafted narratives on subjects ranging from the Brooklyn Bridge to Presidents John Adams and Harry Truman made him among the most popular and influential historians of his time, has died. He was 89. McCullough died Sunday in Hingham, Massachusetts, according to his publisher, […]
12 hours ago
In this undated photo released by the El Paso County Sheriff's Office is Deputy Andrew Peery. Autho...
Associated Press

Sheriff’s deputy fatally shot at southern Colorado home

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (AP) — A sheriff’s deputy was shot and killed Sunday while responding to a weekend shooting at a home in southern Colorado, authorities said. Deputy Andrew Peery was killed Sunday after he arrived at the home in the community of Security near Colorado Springs to investigate a report of a shooting along […]
12 hours ago
Associated Press

MN school district policy bans teaching “divisive concepts”

BECKER, Minn. (AP) — A central Minnesota school district is clashing with the teachers union and LGBTQ allies over a proposed policy that opponents say would undermine equity and inclusion. The proposal by three Becker school board members prohibits “political indoctrination or the teaching of inherently divisive concepts,” in the district’s schools. Policy opponents say […]
12 hours ago
FILE- In this image taken from police body camera video provided by The Moab Police Department, Gab...
Associated Press

Gabby Petito’s family files claim alleging police failed her

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — Gabby Petito’s family on Monday notified Utah officials of plans to file a wrongful death lawsuit alleging that police failed to recognize their daughter was in a life-threatening situation last year when officers investigated a fight between her and her boyfriend. The fight happened weeks before authorities say the boyfriend […]
12 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

...
Sanderson Ford

Don’t let rising fuel prices stop you from traveling Arizona this summer

There's no better time to get out on the open road and see what the beautiful state of Arizona has to offer. But if the cost of gas is putting a cloud over your summer vacation plans, let Sanderson Ford help with their wide-range selection of electric vehicles.
(Courtesy Condor)...
Condor Airlines

Condor Airlines shows passion for destinations from Sky Harbor with new-look aircraft

Condor Airlines brings passion to each flight and connects people to their dream destinations throughout the world.
...
Day & Night Air Conditioning, Heating and Plumbing

Most plumbing problems can be fixed with regular maintenance

Instead of waiting for a problem to happen, experts suggest getting a head start on your plumbing maintenance.
Former police chief facing retrial in killing of black man