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Family of man killed by sheriff’s deputy say he was in mental health crisis

Douglas Sacha/Getty Images

(COLUMBIA, South Carolina) -- A man's family is speaking out after he was shot and killed by a law enforcement officer in Columbia, South Carolina.

Irvin D. Moorer Charley, 34, whose family said he had various mental illnesses, was shot and killed by a sheriff's deputy after police responded to a domestic violence call.

"The officer was very aware of my son's condition," Moorer Charley's mother, Connie Craig, told reporters at a press conference. "They had been to the home many times, several times."

While Moorer Charley's family said he was having a mental health episode, the Richland County Sheriff's Department said the 911 call did not identify Moorer Charley as a person experiencing a mental health crisis.

"I tried to tell them that I've been dealing with him for a long time, and I probably could have gotten him to stop," Craig said. "They said 'Get back.' I begged them. I begged them not to do that to him. I couldn't do any more, and I dropped to the ground, but my son didn't deserve this. He did not deserve this."

The sheriff's department released part of a dash cam video Tuesday in efforts to be "completely transparent with the community" and to provide "clarity to misstatements that this was a mental health call for service."

In the released clip, the deputy who shot Moorer Charley is seen yelling at him multiple times, saying, "drop the weapon," as Moorer Charley approached officers while holding a sharp wooden object. A second officer tried to use a stun gun on Moorer Charley, but according to Richland County Coroner Naida Rutherford, it was ineffective.

"It did not stick in the skin, and so it did not stop him as you would expect,” Rutherford told reporters at a press conference Sunday.

After the stun gun was deployed, officers said Moorer Charley charged at them, and one of the officers shot him.

The department defended the incident at the press conference.

"We can't expect these deputies to go out here and be killed," Richland County Sheriff Leon Lott told reporters. "They have to protect themselves."

While some of the body cam video has been released, Moorer Charley's family is calling on the department to release the video in its entirety.

"We are just calling for transparency and for actions to be taken not only in South Carolina but across the country to address these tragic and preventable mental health deaths," Brendan Green, who is representing Moorer Charley's family, told reporters.

Lott said that while he believes the officers' actions were justified, "It's sad all around," he said.

"Mental health is a problem in our community," the sheriff said. "We do not need to continue to ignore it. When someone cries out for help, they need to get help."

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