Demand Real Punishment for Killer Cop

Target: South Carolina Circuit Judge Edgar Dickson

Goal: Denounce the decision to suspend a 10-year prison sentence for a killer cop in favor of house arrest and probation.

A cop who shot and killed an unarmed black man had a 10-year prison sentence suspended by the judge and was instead given a single year of house arrest and five years of probation. Richard Combs, former Chief of Police of Eutawville, South Carolina, got into an argument with Bernard Bailey at the police station over an obstruction of justice charge. When Bailey tried to leave in his truck, Combs reached in to turn off the ignition. At some point, the truck began to move, and Combs responded to this by firing three shots directly into Bailey’s chest, killing him.

As usual, the officer claimed to have feared for his life before he killed the unarmed man, even though it seems like he could have just stepped away from the vehicle. This defense resulted in two hung juries followed by a plea deal in which the murder charges, which could have resulted in 30 years in prison, would be dropped in exchange for Combs pleading guilty to the lesser charge of misconduct in office.

Even though this should have carried a sentence of 10 years–still very low for the unnecessary killing of an unarmed man–the judge thought this was too harsh and decided to let Combs stay comfortably at home for a year and then go through five years of probation.

This is yet another story of a white police officer being let off easy for killing an unarmed black person. Combs’ actions were bad enough to get him indicted–something that’s nearly impossible in the U.S.–but justice was still not served. If we’re to have any chance of stopping the horrifying pattern of cops killing unarmed and non-threatening black people on a nearly daily basis, we must demand that the perpetrators of this brutality be punished fairly.

Sign our petition to denounce the judge’s decision to give Bailey’s killer a sentence that is more of an inconvenience than a real punishment.


Dear Judge Dickson,

You recently suspended the sentence of former police chief Richard Combs to a single year of house arrest and five years of probation after he pled guilty to misconduct in office following the shooting and killing of Mr. Bernard Bailey over an argument. It’s bad enough that Combs was able to avoid murder charges, but you’ve made it so he will not have to spend a single day in jail for taking away the life of an unarmed man.

You are probably aware of the current problem we have in our country with police officers assaulting and killing black individuals. Cops are killing black people at a rate of one ever 28 hours, and very few are even indicted for the act. The fact that Combs was indicted at all indicates that there must have been a lot of evidence against him. I can’t understand why you would reduce his sentence from 10 years in jail to one year of sitting around his house and five years of meeting with a probation officer sometimes.

If police officers are never held unaccountable for acts of brutality that end in the deaths of unarmed, non-threatening persons, there’s no reason to think that the killings will stop. We denounce your decision to suspend Combs’ sentence and implore you to make better decisions in the future.


[Your Name Here]

Photo credit: Elvert Barnes

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  1. Bina Pannell says:

    Two hung juries? The public need to get out of that ‘police are good and are there to protect us’ mindset.

    While most cops are good and decent people, some are in the police force purely for the power they can impose on the ordinary man in the street, even more so if they are holding a gun.

    It’s time for judges to start making one or two examples of these gun-happy cops. Crimes like this are happening far too often now.

    • Simon Wooliscroft says:

      I agree. Most cops are good and decent, but you wouldn’t get house arrest and probation if you were just an ordinary member of the public who shot an unarmed black man. I think he’s getting off lightly because he’s a cop. It should be the same law for everyone, no care for rank or sway, all equal in the eyes of god. I believe that was the dream of Dixon of Dock Green.

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