Tuesday, July 15, 2014
The South Carolina Law Enforcement Division (SLED)is investigating the circumstances that led to a Georgetown County deputy firing shots that killed a woman in Litchfield Saturday evening.
Valerie Harrington, age 36 and mother of a young daughter, died shortly after arriving at Waccamaw Community Hospital, according to Georgetown County Coroner Kenny Johnson.
He said Harrington had been shot “multiple times.”
Once the SLED investigation is complete, a report will be issued to 15th Circuit Solicitor Jimmy Richardson who will decide if the shooting was justified.
An incident report written by another deputy, released Monday, states officers were dispatched to 49 Ashcraft Circle, Apartment 438 at just past 5 p.m. Saturday in reference to a welfare check.
According to the report, the Sheriff’s Office was contacted by a family member of Harrington who stated Harrington may be suicidal.
The deputies were told by Harrington’s attorney, who is not named in the report, that he was in contact with Harrington and she was locked inside the bathroom with a knife and was threatening to harm herself.
The deputies arrived and knocked on the door several times but there was no response. They received a key from the property manager and went inside the apartment.
“While Sheriff’s deputies were clearing the apartment, Ms. Harrington charged at a deputy with a knife in her hand,” the report states. “A responding deputy discharged his firearm at Ms. Harrington. Deputies then called for EMS and advised dispatch shots were fired.”
SO refuses name
South Strand News has attempted to obtain the identity of the officer who fired the shots but law enforcement has not released his name.
The deputy has been placed on administrative leave.
Georgetown County Assistant Sheriff Carter Weaver, when asked the deputy’s name, referred the information request to SLED.
SLED spokesman Thom Berry said releasing the name is not a function of that agency. He said it is up to the local agency whether or not a name is released in these types of situations.
After that response from SLED, Weaver was contacted a second time for the identification of the officer.
“We will revisit this once it has been determined by SLED exactly what happened before, during, and after the incident. There was more than one officer in and around the location, so any release by this agency at this time would not be based on factual findings founded by an impartial party,” Weaver responded in an e-mail.
Bill Rogers, executive director of the South Carolina Press Association, said Tuesday there is no legal reason for withholding the name of the officer.
“The name should be released. The fact that SLED is investigating has no bearing on the release of the reports by the local agency. They could argue it would hinder their investigation, but that would be hard to justify since no suspect is at large,” Rogers responded.
Meanwhile, some of Harrington’s friends and family members have been expressing their thoughts on social media.
One of her friends, Malynne Nicole Moore, wrote on Facebook Harrington “had an amazing personality! We had a good relationship and kept it through all the hard times. She made mistakes just like everyone does...Pray for (her daughter). She now has to grow up without her mother.”
Harrington’s cousin, Carrie Abbott, wrote: “All this sadness and heartache is so overwhelming, I wish there were more I could do, Keep my family ...in your thoughts and prayers.”