ORANGEBURG, S.C. – A white man who was the police chief in a small South Carolina town has been charged with murder in the 2011 shooting death of an unarmed black man.
Richard Combs worked in Eutawville when 54-year-old Bernard Bailey came to Town Hall to argue about his daughter’s broken-taillight ticket. Combs and Bailey briefly fought, and the police chief shot Bailey twice in the chest.
A grand jury indicted Combs on Wednesday, the same day a New York grand jury refused to indict an officer in the chokehold death of an unarmed black man. It’s more than a week after a grand jury refused to indict an officer in the death of unarmed Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri.
Combs’ lawyer says the officer feared for his life. Prosecutors say he was the aggressor. He’s no longer with the police department.
Eutawville’s population is just over 300 people. About one-third are black.