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Family of teen shot by South Carolina cop settles lawsuit for $2.15 million

Posted at 3:27 PM, Mar 30, 2016
and last updated 2016-03-30 15:27:51-04

The estate of Zachary Hammond, a 19-year-old who was fatally shot last year by a police officer in Seneca, South Carolina, has settled a civil lawsuit for $2.15 million, the family’s attorney said Tuesday.

“Rather than endure a lengthy litigation process, both parties agree that an early resolution will allow a platform for healing for the Hammond family and the City of Seneca that is outside the spotlight of litigation,” attorney Eric Bland said in a statement.

Hammond’s family had contended that the teenager’s civil rights were violated.

Bland said the settlement was reached with the city, its Police Department, Chief John Covington and Lt. Mark Tiller, the officer who shot Hammond dead in a Hardee’s parking lot.

The officer’s attorney maintained he acted in self-defense, fearing Hammond was going to run him over with his car. In October, a state prosecutor decided not to charge Tiller in the shooting.

Federal officials have also been investigating the shooting.

The incident began when Hammond’s date mistakenly sent a text message offering to sell cocaine and marijuana to a phone number belonging to a South Carolina Highway Patrol trooper, Solicitor Chrissy Adams said in a letter announcing her decision not to file charges.

As a sergeant investigated, Tiller was called as backup. He approached Hammond’s vehicle with his gun drawn and opened fire as the teen tried to drive away from the scene.

Authorities released a slow-motion video of the shooting, taken by a police dashboard camera.

The prosecutor said the evidence showed that the officer’s use of deadly force was justified.

“The video at full speed, standing alone, is troublesome,” Adams said in the letter, which was posted on the website of CNN affiliate WYFF. “However, when the video and the totality of the investigation is evaluated and the laws of our state are applied, it is clear that Lt. Tiller broke no state laws.”