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S.C. Trooper Fires Four Bullets At A Traffic Stop For Seatbelt Violation

The Fifth Judicial Circuit Solicitor's Office

A former South Carolina Highway Patrol officer was arrested on Wednesday. The trooper was charged with assault for shooting at a man four times during a routine traffic stop.

The man was pulled over in front of a gas station in Columbia, South Carolina earlier this month for not wearing his seatbelt.

A three-minute dash-cam video of the shooting was released by prosecutors late Wednesday night.

It starts off like any other regular traffic stop. South Carolina state trooper stops a man in a white SUV for not wearing his seatbelt. The man gets out of his car. The state trooper asks for his license.  

Thirty-five-year-old Levar Jones, who is black, turns his back to the officer and reaches for something in his car. But before he has a chance to turn back around, state trooper Sean Groubert, who is white, is yelling at him to get out of the car. You hear four bullets:

"Get out of the car! Get out of the car! Get on the ground! Get on the ground!" Groubert says in the dash-cam video. 

Jones has his hands raised in the air as the shots are fired and one of the bullets hits him in the hip. In the video, he says he can't feel his leg.

Groubert: Put your hands behind your back! Jones: What did I do, sir? Groubert: Are you hit? Jones: I think so. I can't feel my leg. I don't know what happened. I just grabbed my license. Why did you shoot me? Groubert: Well, you dove headfirst back into your car.

Groubert explains that he was stopped because he didn't have his seatbelt on. Jones tells him he just took it off to get gas.


The shooting took place in broad daylight on September 4 and Groubert was fired last week.

South Carolina Department of Public Safety Director Leroy Smith calls the shooting "disturbing" and "unwarranted."

Credit Richland County Government
Former South Carolina Highway Patrol officer Sean Groubert was fired on Friday, September 19 by the South Carolina Department of Public Safety.

 Groubert started his career as a state trooper in 2005 and had one complaint against him in 2009 for not following department policies. He resigned and became a Deputy Sheriff with Richland County before rejoining the state highway patrol in 2012.

Groubert also won several awards – including the Medal of Valor Award for his handling of a shooting in 2012, in which a suspect fired at officers.

Groubert is free on a $75,000 bond. He faces up to 20 years in prison. Jones, who was unarmed, was treated and released from the hospital.