YORK, South Carolina — The South Carolina deputy who shot a 70-year-old North Carolina man after mistaking his cane for a shotgun during an after-dark traffic stop will not be charged, prosecutors said Thursday.
In a letter to the State Law Enforcement Division, Solicitor Kevin Brackett said he had determined that the February shooting was an accident and that York County Deputy Terrance Knox had no criminal intent.
"In the split seconds he had to assess the situation in the darkness his fear was entirely reasonable," Brackett wrote.
Dash cam video of the stop shows, Bobby Canipe of Lincolnton, North Carolina, quickly pulling over on a four-lane highway near Clover outside Charlotte after Knox, 24, puts on his blue lights and siren. Canipe's tag had expired about six weeks earlier.
Canipe gets out of the pickup and turns toward the bed without acknowledging Knox as the deputy yells "Sir!" three times. Canipe reaches in the back and pulls out a slender object with the tip pointed at the officer. Knox yells "Whoa!" several times as he fires a half-dozen shots.
"It's a walking stick," Canipe said as the shots ended.
Knox shouted an expletive as he immediately ran to check on Canipe, who was hit once and survived. The whole sequence takes about 15 seconds. Knox begins to sob when another officer arrives a few minutes later and puts his arm around him.
"I promise to God I thought it was a shotgun," Knox said in tears.
Knox was placed on administrative leave after the incident and has since returned the work, officials said.