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Ex-South Carolina Trooper Pleads Guilty After Shooting Unarmed Man

by Tim Stelloh /

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An ex-South Carolina state trooper pleaded guilty Monday to assault and battery after shooting an unarmed man at a gas station in 2014.

Sean Groubert, 33, faces 20 years in prison for striking Levar Jones in the hip during the Sept. 4 traffic stop in Columbia.

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Groubert, a former corporal who was fired shortly after the shooting, said little during a court hearing on Monday, although he did acknowledge being diagnosed with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder for an incident in 2012. Groubert’s lawyer offered few details, though he said the trooper was “shot at” and he “returned fire.”

In dash-cam video of the 2014 shooting, the trooper can be seen pulling up beside Jones, who Groubert believed was not wearing a seat belt.

After Groubert asks for a driver’s license, Jones leans into his car. “Get out of the car,” Groubert can be heard shouting before immediately firing several shots at Jones.

“That’s my license — right there,” Jones says after being shot. He then adds: “What did I do, sir?”

In a statement Groubert gave after the shooting, he said that he “observed” Jones “take an aggressive stance toward me.”

Believing that Jones had a pistol in his hand, Groubert said, he fired several times.

“Everything seemed to be happening in fast-forward,” Groubert said. “I was unsure if the shots fired were coming from my own pistol or if he was actively shooting at me.”

Groubert, who had been working as a truck driver while out on bond and was arrested last year for shoplifting, according to NBC affiliate WIS, faces a maximum of 20 years in prison.

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