Sentenced: Cop Who Killed Black Driver

Associated Press

Former North Augusta, S.C., police Officer Justin Craven will serve three years of probation but no time behind bars for the killing of 68-year-old Ernest Satterwhite in his driveway after he led police trying to stop him for drunken driving on a 13-minute chase.

Craven is White, Satterwhite is Black and the case has added to the frustrations among African Americans over violence at the hands of police.

Craven’s dashboard camera captured the chase and shooting. As soon as Satterwhite stopped, Craven ran up to his car and stuck his gun into Satterwhite’s window. There is a brief struggle, and a Black arm is seen pushing at Craven’s arm. Craven then pulls the gun out of the window and fires several shots.

Other officers run over and can be seen yelling on the video, which had no audio. Twenty minutes after he is shot, paramedics put Satterwhite’s body on a backboard and one puts a stethoscope to his chest.

Craven, 27, pleaded guilty Monday to misdemeanor misconduct in office. A prosecutor originally sought an indictment on a voluntary manslaughter charge that carried two to 30 years in prison, but a grand jury refused to indict. Solicitor Donnie Myers did get a grand jury to charge Craven with a different felony that carries up to 10 years but decided to take a plea deal. He did not return a message from The Associated Press.

“To execute this man in this manner is murder,” said State Rep. Joe Neal, a Black Democrat from Hopkins who has spent decades speaking out against racism in law enforcement and demanding accountability through data and police cameras. “To allow him to plead to a simple misdemeanor, as if this man’s life had no value, is inexcusable.”

Judge Frank Addy told Craven he was giving the officer probation because he could understand how the shooting happened after a long chase, the Aiken Standard reported.

A lawyer for Satterwhite’s family did not return a phone call. North Augusta paid the family nearly $1.2 million to settle a lawsuit.