Prosecutors announced Thursday that the South Carolina deputy who shot a 70-year old Lincolnton man after mistaking his cane for a shotgun during a traffic stop will not be charged.
According to The Charlotte Observer, the South Carolina State Law Enforcement Division received a letter from Solicitor Kevin Brackett stating that he had determined that the February shooting was an accident and that 24-year-old York County deputy Terrance Knox had no criminal intent.
“In the split seconds he had to assess the situation in the darkness his fear was entirely reasonable,” Brackett wrote.
The Times-News previously reported that Knox shot Bobby Dean Canipe just after 7:30 p.m. on February 25, near the intersection of U.S. 321 and Mosteller Street in Clover, South Carolina. Canipe and a female passenger had been on their way home from the Daytona 500 race in Florida.
Video from the Knox’s dash camera showed Canipe quickly pulling over on a four-lane highway after Knox put on his blue lights and siren. According to law enforcement records, Canipe’s tag had expired six weeks earlier.
The video showed that Canipe got out of the pickup truck and turned toward the bed of his vehicle without acknowledging Knox as the deputy yelled “Sir!” three times. When Canipe reached in the bed of the truck and pulled out a slender object with the tip pointed at the officer, Knox yelled “Whoa!” multiple times as he fired a half-dozen shots, one of which struck Canipe in the stomach.
As the shots ended, Canipe could be heard saying, “It’s a walking stick.”
The deputy told law enforcement officials he believed Canipe was reaching for a long-barrel rifle and felt threatened. The dash cam showed Knox sobbing when another officer arrived a few minutes later and put his arm around him.
“I promise to God I thought it was a shotgun,” Knox said.
Knox was reported to have assisted the victim until emergency medical crews arrived on the scene and transported Canipe to Carolinas Medical Center-Main in Charlotte, where he recovered.
During the investigation into the incident, officials said Knox was placed on administrative leave and has since returned to work.