Florence city councilman lashes out against police

Florence City Councilman Ed Robinson held a news conference outside the Florence City County Complex Tuesday morning to express his concern about an officer involved shooting last week in Florence.

"Did he have to shoot this young man? That's the question. Did he have to shoot him?," said Robinson.

George Leonard was shot by a city officer last Thursday.

The officer spotted George Leonard walking near the intersection of Chase and Darlington streets.

The officer was familiar with Leonard and knew he was wanted on three general sessions court bench warrants, according to Florence Police Chief Anson Shells.

The officer got out of his patrol car and tried to stop Leonard. Chief Shells says when Leonard kept walking, the officer tried to shock Leonard, but the shocking device failed.

At that point, Chief Shells says Leonard picked up a chunk of asphalt and charged at the officer as if he was going to strike the officer. The officer fired two shots, hitting Leonard once in the shoulder.

"I truly believe the officer did not have any choice. You know, asphalt, concrete when they are a good size they can certainly be deadly weapons or used as deadly weapons. So officers certainly have a right to protect themselves," said Chief Shells.

Leonard was treated and released from the hospital the night of the shooting.

He's being held at the Florence County Detention Center.

Robinson says he's not attacking police, but he has a problem with how the officer handled the situation with Leonard.

He questions why the officer's dash cam and microphone weren't on when this incident occurred.

"When there's an incident and they know they're totally correct, the camera's there," Robinson said. "But when there's things that are in question, for some reason there's no camera. I mean the camera will tell the whole story."

Chief Anson Shells says the officer didn't have time to activate his dash cam and microphone and wasn't required to. He says officers have to turn on their cameras when their blue lights are activated. In this case, Leonard was a pedestrian and was approached by the officer on foot.

Robinson says Leonard suffers from mental illness, and the officer should have waited on back up before approaching him.

Shells says his officer had no way of knowing Leonard's mental status.

Shells called the shooting an unfortunate incident and says the State Law Enforcement Division will get to the bottom of what happened.

Robinson and the Leonard family say they're conducting their own investigation and will present their findings to state police and the solicitor.

The officer involved in the shooting has been placed on administrative duty pending the outcome of the investigation.