Graphic body-camera video shows South Carolina deputy shoot man inside his own home

The 62-year-old was "was shot four times through the window of his own front door," the man's lawyer said.

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By Elisha Fieldstadt

Graphic body-camera video released by a South Carolina sheriff's office shows a deputy shoot a man inside his own home through a window pane next to the man's front door.

Footage from the deputy's body camera conflicts with the Greenville County Sheriff's Office's original contention that the man, identified by his lawyer as Dick Tench, 62, was shot after he opened his door and pointed a gun at the deputy, the man's lawyer said Tuesday. The lawyer said Tench was shot four times.

The deputy, whose name has not been released, was responding to what police thought was a medical alarm when he was dispatched to Tench's home in Simpsonville at about 11:54 on June 14, the sheriff's office said in a video posted Monday on the office's YouTube account.

The body-camera footage in the video shows a man appear in a window next to the house's front door.

"According to the deputy, after noticing the man inside, he illuminates him with his flashlight, and as he did so, the man who was initially walking away from the front door, turned and pointed his gun at him," Sheriff's Office Capt. Tim Brown said in a video on YouTube that includes the body-camera footage.

"In an effort to defend himself against the perceived threat, the deputy fired his issued weapon as he retreated off the porch and subsequently struck the individual multiple times," Brown said.

The video shows that after the deputy fires shots, he orders Tench to throw his gun outside. Tench asks who he is, and tells him he has been shot.

The deputy answers that he is with the sheriff's office, and is there because "we got an alarm call."

"Oh, my God, call the cops please," Tench answers.

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"I am the cops," the deputy responds.

The deputy then enters the house as Tench's wife walks down the stairs near the entryway exclaiming, "Oh my God!"

The deputy asks Tench where the gun is, and Tench, who is on his knees, points to a handgun behind him.

"What’s wrong with you man," Tench asks the deputy, as he bleeds through his shirt, the video shows.

"You pointed a gun at me, man," the deputy answers.

"You’re in my house ... I saw lights, and I heard the doorbell ring, and I got my gun. I’m a concealed-weapons guy. Get the ambulance here, I’m going to die, hurry," Tench says. "You came to my house at 12 o'clock at night, I’m sleeping. Goddamn, I've got to protect my house. Oh my God, get the ambulance right now, I’m going to die."

"OK, we’re not going to talk about this right now, we’re going to focus on keeping you alive, so take some deep breaths, and you’re going to be OK, alright," the deputy says as he tapes up Tench's wounds.

Tench seems confused when the deputy tells him he was responding to an alarm call. "We don't have an alarm," Tench answers.

In the video, Sheriff's Capt. Brown said that before the deputy went to the house, both the alarm company and 911 dispatchers tried to contact the homeowner, but were unable to. He said it was later determined that the panic alarm was received from a cellphone medical assistance application from someone inside the home, but there had not been an immediate emergency.

Tench's attorney, Beattie Ashmore, told NBC News on Tuesday that after the shooting, the sheriff's office had a press conference and a Facebook post was up "for weeks" which said "Dick opened the door and aimed at the deputy."

"Obviously that did not happen as we now know from the body-cam footage," Ashmore said.

NBC News reached out to the sheriff's office for comment about the discrepancy in the account of the shooting but did not immediately hear back.

Tench, who was taken to the hospital after the shooting, has had a bullet removed from his aorta through his back, and a "bullet in his pelvis will remain," Ashmore said. He was also grazed in his forearm and back, but he is recovering, the lawyer said.

Lt. Ryan Flood, public information officer for the sheriff's department, said the office is conducting an internal investigation "to determine whether the deputy's actions were consistent with the strict guidelines and standards set forth in the sheriff’s office policy." The South Carolina State Law Enforcement Division is also investigating. A Smith & Wesson pistol was found at the scene.

The deputy involved in the shooting is on administrative leave, NBC affiliate WYFF in Greenville reported.

CORRECTION (July 30, 2019, 5:35 p.m. ET): An earlier version of this article misspelled the name of the man shot by the officer. His name is Dick Tench, not Trench.