Target: Attorney General Loretta Lynch
Goal: Bring federal criminal charges against officer accused of fatally shooting an unarmed teen during drug sting.
A police officer who allegedly shot and killed an unarmed 19-year-old currently faces no criminal charges. Officer Mark Tiller was reportedly involved in a drug sting operation in which he approached Zachary Hammond’s car brandishing a gun. Feeling threatened, Hammond attempted to flee the scene but was allegedly shot twice and killed by Tiller. Hammond was approached on suspicion of misdemeanor drug possession.
Initial statements by Officer Tiller said Hammond had tried to run him over with his car. County prosecutor Chrissy Adams took this to mean Tiller had acted in self-defense and levied no charges against the officer. However, new footage that has surface from a dash cam at the scene clearly depicts Hammond trying to flee, not attack the officer. Tiller is seen approaching the car with a gun and even attempting to follow it as it starts to pull away. The car is moving parallel to Tiller, and is clearly never in danger of hitting him. Additionally, a private autopsy of Hammond’s body shows he was shot in the side and back, indicating any oncoming threat to Tiller had already passed by the time he fired.
Even Adams states that it was “improper” for Tiller to run up to the suspect’s car in the manner depicted in the video. Officers are instructed to stay behind the door of their own patrol car in such a situation. Tiller clearly placed himself in a situation that allowed him to lose control and react poorly, resulting in a senseless death. Regardless of protocol, Tiller’s use of force in the situation was completely unjustified. There was no reasonable cause to assume Hammond was a danger to Tiller or anyone else at that time. Tiller can also be heard yelling expletives at Hammond in the video, signifying his actions were based in rage, not fear or self-defense.
Although the state is not pursuing charges against Tiller, the Department of Justice has opened a federal civil rights investigation into the matter. Sign the petition below to ensure Tiller is brought to justice and prosecuted to the full extent of the law.
Dear Attorney General Lynch,
I am deeply disturbed by the lack of charges against Mark Tiller, the police officer accused for the senseless killing of an unarmed teen in South Carolina. Zachary Hammond was suspected of nothing more than misdemeanor drug possession, yet lost his life when Tiller reportedly fired two shots at him during a drug sting operation.
Tiller ignored protocol when he approached Hammond’s car, placing him in a position to lose control of the situation. Yet still, the dash cam footage released shows no evidence of Hammond attempting to run Tiller over with his car, as the officer has repeatedly claimed. Furthermore, an autopsy report shows Hammond was shot in the side and back, indicating any possible threat had passed. In the video, Tiller can be heard shouting expletives at Hammond as he attempts to drive away, hinting that his shots were retaliation in anger, not acts of self defense.
We must not allow this type of aggravated assault from police officers to continue. A young person’s life should not be ruined for misdemeanor drug possession, let alone ended. Officers of the law need to follow all safety protocols in dealing with suspects and use deadly force only when their or others’ lives are in jeopardy. I urge you to take a stand against police brutality and send a message to law enforcement everywhere. Please uphold the justice system and ensure Officer Tiller is prosecuted to the full extent of the law.
[Your Name Here]
Photo Credit: Seneca Police Department