White Officer Gets Probation in Black Driver's Killing

SC officer pleaded guilty to misdemeanor
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Apr 12, 2016 12:48 AM CDT
White Officer Gets Probation in Black Driver's Shooting
This Feb. 18, 2013 photo made available by the Columbia County Sheriff's Office shows Ernest Satterwhite.    (Uncredited)

A white South Carolina police officer who was charged with a felony for shooting and killing a black driver at the end of a chase took a plea deal Monday and was sentenced to three years of probation. Justin Craven, 27, pleaded guilty to misdemeanor misconduct in office. A prosecutor wanted the North Augusta police officer charged with voluntary manslaughter, which carries up to 30 years in prison, but a grand jury refused to indict Craven, the AP reports. He was later charged with a different felony, discharging a firearm into an occupied vehicle, which carried a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison. The death of 68-year-old Ernest Satterwhite on Feb. 9, 2014, was captured on video from Craven's dashboard camera.

The footage, which state authorities refused to release until after Monday's hearing, shows Craven run to Satterwhite's car after the man stops at his home and stick a gun and both arms into the driver's open window. An arm is seen pushing back, and Craven pulls the weapon out of the window and fires several shots. The shooting happened after a 13-minute chase after Craven tried to pull Satterwhite over for drunken driving. North Augusta paid Satterwhite's family nearly $1.2 million to settle a lawsuit. Craven feared for his life because Satterwhite was trying to grab his gun, the officer's lawyer said after the hearing. He said Craven regrets that Satterwhite died in the shooting and has no plans to become a police officer again. (Read more South Carolina stories.)

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