US & Canada

Sean Groubert charged in shooting of Levar Jones

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Media captionDashboard video shows the moment Mr Groubert apparently opened fire on Mr Jones

A South Carolina state trooper has been sacked and arrested after shooting an unarmed man whom he had seconds earlier pulled over for not wearing a seatbelt.

Sean Groubert, 31, who is white, is seen on dashboard video shooting Levar Jones, 35, who is black.

Mr Jones was struck in the hip and has been released from hospital. Mr Groubert has been freed on bail.

The arrest comes soon after two high-profile incidents in which white US police killed unarmed black men.

Three seconds pass

In video shot from a camera on the dashboard of Mr Groubert's patrol car on 4 September, Mr Groubert pulls behind Mr Jones's truck in a Richland County petrol station, then asks, "Can I see your licence please?"

Mr Jones, who has just stepped out of the truck, turns and reaches into the cab, with no apparent aggression in his manner.

An instant later Mr Groubert shouts "get out of the car" and bursts into the frame with gun drawn, then opens fire before Mr Jones can react.

In the next three seconds, at least four shots can be heard as Mr Jones puts his hands over his head then crumples to the ground.

Image copyright AP
Image caption Mr Groubert was charged on Wednesday and released on bond

"You said get my licence," Mr Jones is heard moaning, out of vision, "I grabbed my licence."

Mr Groubert holsters his gun, orders Mr Jones to put his hands behind his back, then summons an ambulance and other police officers.

Mr Jones asks why Mr Groubert shot him. Mr Groubert responds, "You dove head first back into your car.''

The South Carolina Department of Public Safety fired Mr Groubert on 19 September.

"Mr Groubert's actions rose to such an extent that his employment with us must be terminated," director Leroy Smith said in a statement.

"The facts of this case are disturbing to me, but I believe this case was an isolated incident in which Mr Groubert reacted to a perceived threat where there was none."

'Without justification'

On Wednesday, prosecutors in Richland County, South Carolina, issued an arrest warrant charging Mr Groubert with assault and battery of a high and aggravated nature, a felony that carries up to 20 years in prison.

The filing says Mr Groubert shot Mr Jones "without justification", and cites the video recording as evidence.

He has been released on a $75,000 (£46,000) bond.

In Mr Groubert's case, the arrest warrant was issued less than three weeks after the shooting.

But in two other cases since the beginning of August, white policemen were not charged, leading to widespread outrage.

In Missouri, a grand jury is weighing charges against Ferguson Officer Darren Wilson, who shot and killed 18-year-old Michael Brown in the middle of a street on 9 August.

Mr Wilson has said Mr Brown attacked him. Witnesses say Mr Brown had his hands up and was a considerable distance away when he was killed.

And in Ohio this week, a grand jury declined to prosecute police officers who shot and killed John Crawford III as he was strolling around a Walmart store while playing with a toy rifle he had taken from a shelf and talking on his mobile phone.

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