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Police officer charged in fatal shooting of man who allegedly ran through stop sign

South Carolina authorities arrested a police officer Wednesday and charged her with voluntary manslaughter in the fatal shooting of a driver following a high-speed chase through a rural county.

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The officer, Cassandra Dollard of the Hemingway Police Department, was in pursuit of Robert Junior Langley early Sunday when the incident occurred, the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division said in a news release.

The agency said Langley, a 46-year-old Black man, of Hemingway was transported to a hospital where he died from his injuries. It declined to provide further details, citing an ongoing investigation.

An arrest warrant for Dollard said she sought to pull over Langley for running a stop sign, which led to the chase reaching speeds of more than 100 miles per hour, according to The Associated Press.

Langley then crashed into a ditch in rural Georgetown County, west of Myrtle Beach, and attempted to get out of the car when Dollard opened fire and struck him in the chest, according to the arrest warrant. Dollard, a 52-year-old Black woman, told investigators she was in fear for her life.

Authorities said the officer, however, did not have authority to arrest Langley outside of Williamsburg County, where Hemingway, a town of about 500 people, is located.

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During a news conference Wednesday, attorneys for Langley’s family said the father of 10, who had just become a grandfather, was unarmed and didn’t have any outstanding arrest warrants.

The family was earlier permitted to view dashboard camera footage.

“They were able to hear him being shot unjustifiably. They were able to see him gargling blood and fighting for air,” family attorney Bakari Sellers, a former South Carolina state lawmaker, said.

Langley’s mother told reporters that her son’s life was taken for no justifiable reason.

“This was a special part of my heart. When they took him, they took my heart away,” Roslyn Langley, surrounded by other family members, said. “I don’t want nobody else to get killed by a mistake somebody made,” she added.

Sellers said he believes the officer was “out of her depth” and didn’t follow her training or wasn’t trained well.

It was not immediately clear if Dollard has an attorney and Hemingway police did not immediately respond to a request for comment. A bond hearing was scheduled for Thursday morning.

If convicted of voluntary manslaughter, Dollard faces two to 30 years in prison.

Historically, charges against officers who use lethal force remain rare, and convictions for serious charges are even more unusual. Last year, 21 police officers in the United States were charged with murder or manslaughter resulting from on-duty shootings, according to a database by Philip Stinson, a criminal justice professor at Bowling Green State University.

Black Americans are killed by police at more than twice the rate of white Americans, according to a Washington Post database analysis.

The Associated Press contributed.

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