Officers of the Myrtle Beach Police Department were responding to a call about an erratic driver on Ocean Boulevard Sunday night when two of the officers opened fire on the suspect after the person allegedly attempted to run them over, according to a recorded statement from MBPD Chief Amy Prock.
“It is a type of incident as a law enforcement officer that you never want to be involved in,” Prock said in a video on Facebook after the officer-involved shooting sent the suspect to the hospital Sunday night.
Officers responded to the area of 21st Avenue North and Ocean Boulevard around 11:30 p.m. Sunday for “an erratic driver,” Prock said in the video.
Officers attempted to stop the vehicle as it turned into the Mystic Sea Motel, according to MBPD Capt. Joey Crosby.
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“As officers attempted to make contact with the driver, the driver maneuvered their vehicle towards officers and struck one of our officers,” Prock said. “At that time, due to the subject’s actions, officers discharged their firearms. Officers immediately rendered aid and the subject was transported to the hospital.”
PFC Justin Lieberth and Patrolman Drew Fox were named as the officers involved in the incident.
“As per our protocol, the officers have been placed on administrative duty pending the completion of the investigation,” Crosby said.
“It is normal when an incident occurs like this that people question the safety in the city, but I am here to tell you that thankfully, although this is an unfortunate incident and (a) random and rare incident in the city, officers were presented with an emergency situation,” Prock said. “They acted swiftly in a manner to protect themselves and the citizens that were in that area.”
The South Carolina Law Enforcement Division (SLED) took over the investigation of the officer-involved shooting under department protocol.
“We’re continuing to investigate and that includes gathering evidence, conducting interviews with witnesses” and analyzing evidence, said Kathryn Richardson, executive assistant in SLED’s public information office.
“...No officer ever wants to harm anyone,” Prock said. “However, as sworn protectors of the peace sometimes incidents present themselves that require officers to have to make life and death decisions. Our prayers go out to all that were involved in this incident to include the offender, the offender’s family, our officers, the witnesses, all those that were touched by this incident.”
Myrtle Beach Mayor John Rhodes thanked the city’s police department for its daily efforts.
“Our police officers have a tough job every day, and we look to them to provide protection for the public,” he said. “They do not like using force, but it can be required in some instances. As is usual, the city has turned the investigation of Sunday night’s shooting on South Ocean Boulevard over to SLED, and we await their independent results.”
Police did not release details on the condition of the suspect who was shot.