An incident Tuesday in which a York County Sheriff’s deputy shot an unarmed Lincoln County man during a traffic stop near Clover serves as the ninth officer-involved shooting in South Carolina this year, officials with the South Carolina Law Enforcement Divison (SLED) said.
According to a York County Sheriff’s Office press release, Deputy Terrance Knox shot Bobby Dean Canipe, 70, just after 7:30 p.m. near the intersection of U.S. 321 and Mosteller Street.
Knox stopped Canipe’s 2001 white Ford pickup truck for an expired license plate, Sheriff’s Office officials said.
The Lincolnton man was with Shelby resident Carolyn McEntire, 74, when Knox stopped the vehicle.
The two had been on their way home from Sunday’s Daytona 500 race in Florida.
The 24-year-old deputy fired several shots at Canipe, striking him once in the stomach, after the driver exited the truck and reached for a walking cane in the vehicle’s bed.
The deputy told Sheriff’s Office officials he believed Canipe was reaching for a long-barrel rifle and felt threatened.
While the York County agency said Knox “was forced to make a split second, life or death decision” and fire his gun, they are not releasing information on whether the officer spoke to Canipe as he approached the truck bed.
Investigators said they reviewed video footage of the shooting recorded by a dash camera on the deputy’s patrol vehicle.
Knox assisted the victim until emergency medical crews arrived on the scene, the release said.
Canipe was transported to Carolinas Medical Center-Main in Charlotte, where he currently remains, according to hospital officials.
The Times-News contacted McEntire at the hospital on Thursday afternoon.
She refused to talk to the media about the incident.
“I’m not saying anything until we get a lawyer,” McEntire said.
Phone lines to both individuals’ residences have also been temporarily disconnected.
SLED is currently conducting an investigation into the high profile shooting and is set to report all findings to the 16th Circuit Solicitor when done, deputies said.
According to SLED spokesman Thom Berry, there is not set time limit for an investigation.
“Each investigation is unique and separate,” he said. “We want to work as expeditiously as possible but also want to make sure everything’s right…and we do a thorough job.”
SLED investigates all officer-involved shootings — events in which an officer fires his or her weapon.
“We investigate the shooting itself,” Berry said, “not events leading up (to it) unless the requesting agency asks us to.”
Last year, the state agency looked into 42 officer-involved shootings and 44 in 2013, Berry noted.
Nearly all officers are cleared in the incidents, SLED officials said.
After a solicitor reviews all case files, he will decide whether or not to take the evidence to court, decline the prosecution altogether or request additional work from SLED, Berry said.
York County Sheriff’s officials stated that while Knox responded appropriately “to what he reasonably believed to be an imminent threat to his life,” the incident remains “unfortunate” and has extended their prayers to families of both the deputy and victim.
Knox, a three-year veteran of law enforcement, has been placed on paid administrative leave pending an investigation.
According to friends of Canipe, whose address was listed on Killian Road in Lincolnton, the victim attends church and often completes charity work, raising funds annually to assist hungry families in the community.
Canipe also served in the U.S. Army, fighting in the Vietman War, and took on a career in truck driving followed by dispatching when his health started failing, friend Bobby Hoyle said.
Police and family expect the victim to fully recover.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.