GREENVILLE, S.C. — Nine officers in South Carolina had no choice but to fire on a man after he wounded a woman last month, then used her body as a shield during a shootout, a sheriff said Friday.

Ramiro Ramirez “came to do battle” after killing the woman on a busy highway in Greenville on July 14, firing on responding officers before they could even get out of their cars, Greenville County Sheriff Will Lewis said at a news conference.

Ramirez hid behind 25-year-old Candy Rosario’s body, reloading once as he kept firing at deputies, Lewis said.

The shootout ended with Ramirez, 34, putting the gun to his own head and pulling the trigger, Greenville County Coroner Parks Evans has said.

Since the State Law Enforcement Division is investigating the shooting, Lewis said he doesn’t know exactly how many shots his officers fired or whether any of them struck Rosario.

The nine deputies followed all police rules and he reinstated them to active duty 11 days after the shooting, Lewis said. The criminal investigation into the shootings continues, the sheriff said.

But Lewis left little doubt he felt like the shooting was legal.

“I don’t think we could have prevented this, ever,” the sheriff said.

Ramirez and Rosario were in a romantic relationship before the shooting, Lewis said.

Lewis plans to soon release dashboard footage of the shooting, which he said will remove any questions about the officers’ actions. There is also body camera footage, but it shows graphic scenes like Ramirez’s death and deputies dragging a badly wounded Rosario away and Lewis said he won’t release that video.

“When they were dragging her away she became exposed,” Lewis said. “I just don’t want that video out there for the victim’s family.”

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