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

Today in History: October 2, Warsaw Uprising is crushed

Today in History Today is Sunday, Oct. 2, the 275th day of 2022. There are 90 days left in the year. Today’s Highlight in History: On Oct. 2, 1944, German troops crushed the two-month-old Warsaw Uprising, during which a quarter of a million people had been killed. On this date: In 1869, political and spiritual […]
21 hours ago
FILE - This still image from video taken Oct. 4, 2021, and provided by the U.S. Coast Guard shows a...
Associated Press

Ruptured oil pipeline off California approved for repairs

LOS ANGELES (AP) — A Texas oil company was granted permission to repair an underwater pipeline that ruptured off the coast of Southern California a year ago, spilled tens of thousands of gallons of crude, and forced beaches and fisheries to close. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers granted the approval Friday to Amplify Energy […]
21 hours ago
FILE - This undated file photo posted on Twitter on June 18, 2020, by then Venezuela's Foreign Mini...
Associated Press

Venezuela swaps 7 jailed Americans for Maduro relatives

WASHINGTON (AP) — In a rare softening of hostile relations, Venezuela freed on Saturday seven imprisoned Americans in exchange for the United States releasing two nephews of President Nicolás Maduro’s wife who had been jailed for years on narcotics convictions. The swap of the Americans, including five oil executives held for nearly five years, follows […]
21 hours ago
CORRECTS FIRST NAME TO PAUL, INSTEAD OF TOM - Members of mediccorps.org, who arrived with two helic...
Associated Press

Pine Island residents recount horror, fear as Ian bore down

PINE ISLAND, Fla. (AP) — Paramedics and volunteers with a group that rescues people after natural disasters went door to door Saturday on Florida’s devastated Pine Island, offering to evacuate residents who spoke of the terror of riding out Hurricane Ian in flooded homes and howling winds. The largest barrier island off Florida’s Gulf Coast, […]
21 hours ago
FILE - President Donald Trump speaks at the White House in Washington, on Nov. 5, 2020. In a Friday...
Associated Press

Archives: Records from Trump WH staffers remain missing

WASHINGTON (AP) — The National Archives and Records Administration informed lawmakers that a number of electronic communications from Trump White House staffers remain missing, nearly two years since the administration was required to turn them over. The nation’s record-keeping agency, in a letter Friday to the House Committee on Oversight and Reform, said that despite […]
21 hours ago
Associated Press

UN says detained Iranian-American was allowed to leave Iran

UNITED NATIONS (AP) — An 85-year-old Iranian-American who formerly worked for the U.N. children’s agency and was detained in Iran in 2016 has been permitted to leave the country for medical treatment abroad, the United Nations said Saturday. U.N. spokesman Stephane Dujarric announced the departure of Baquer Namazi and said Secretary-General Antonio Guterres was grateful […]
21 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

...
Day & Night Air Conditioning, Heating and Plumbing

Ways to prevent clogged drains and what to do if you’re too late

While there are a variety of ways to prevent clogged drains, it's equally as important to know what to do when you're already too late.
...
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.
...
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