Video: Cop: ‘Trying to hit him’

NBC News and
updated 6/10/2008 3:58:02 PM ET 2008-06-10T19:58:02

Federal prosecutors on Tuesday charged a South Carolina state trooper with striking an African-American man with his patrol car, while videotaping the incident with the cruiser's dashboard camera, NBC News reported.

Federal authorities launched the investigation into the South Carolina Highway Patrol after dashboard camera videos recorded the trooper using a racial slur and two other troopers ramming their cruisers into fleeing suspects.

A federal grand jury charged Lance Cpl. Steve C. Garren with intentionally striking the man, who was injured in the car ramming. The indictment accuses Garren of violating the civil rights of the victim to be free from unreasonable police conduct.

The Highway Patrol released two videos, both from 2007, showing troopers using their cars to ram suspects.

In one of those tapes, Garren allegedly drives after a black man on foot, striking him when he crosses in front of Garren's cruiser. The man was sent flying into high grass on the roadside.

"Yeah, I hit him. I was trying to hit him," Garren, who is white, can be heard telling another trooper. Garren received a three-day suspension, which he appealed.

Another video showed a car driven by Lance Cpl. Alexander Richardson chasing a running man at an apartment complex, driving between buildings and on sidewalks, passing onlookers, including a small child. The suspect appeared to be hit at a slower speed and kept on running.

Richardson was reprimanded and completed a stress management course, disciplinary records show.

Highway Patrol Col. Russell Roark and his boss, Public Safety Director James Schweitzer, resigned in February after a tape surfaced showing a trooper using a racial slur in 2004.

This report from NBC News' Pete Williams includes information from previous stories.

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