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South Carolina officers cleared in the death of the man with knife

GREENVILLE, S. C. – Three police officers in South Carolina were justified in shooting a man who called 911 reporting he was having a mental crisis, because he ran at one of them with the knife, a prosecutor said Thursday.

The family of Jermaine Massey has said the fatal shooting shows Greenville County deputies need more training on how to deal with people with mental health problems and the need to solve problems with less violence.

The representatives showed reluctance to try to talk Massey as he stalked around the back yard of his Greenville home raised the knife up and down, Solicitor Walt Wilkins.

But five shocks from a Taser had “literally zero effect,” Wilkins said.

And when Massey charged at a deputy with the knife, Wilkins, three of the four officers fired a total of 11 shots, all captured on the body camera video released after Wilkins’ press conference.

“The last thing anyone wants to happen is for someone to hurt, or an officer or an individual member of our community,” Wilkins said.

Massey, 35, called 911 to report that he was bipolar and having thoughts about harming his family on 19 March. The body camera video shows Massey sitting on his steps back as the officers arrive, but soon while the large knife.

Massey had a blood-alcohol content of 0.15 percent, nearly twice the legal limit to drive, and traces of midazolam, a prescription sedative commonly used for medical procedures, Wilkins.

Massey’s family and friends said that they are not happy with the prosecutor’s decision.

“We are still fighting to change the judicial system. Almost never police condemned when they act in error, but that gives them a lot of confidence to continue doing what they do,” U. A. Thompson, a community activist speaking on behalf of Massey’s family, told The Greenville News.

Interim Greenville County Sheriff Johnny Mack Brown said he is trying to a training for as many delegates as he can in the next few months.

“We understand that there is a lot of the mental illness that there is and we want to be able to handle it,” Brown said.

Wilkins said he left the family, the body camera video of the shooting within a few days, because he wanted them to understand what the officers were dealing with, and answering their questions the best he could.

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Follow Jeffrey Collins on Twitter https://twitter.com/JSCollinsAP . Read his work on https://apnews.com/search/jeffrey%20collins .

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