S.C. officer won’t face charges in April shooting death of Black teenager

Josh Ruffin, 17, was killed April 8 after he ran away when a police officer started asking him questions and pointed a gun at the officer chasing him, Columbia Police Chief Skip Holbrook said.
Josh Ruffin, 17, was killed April 8 after he ran away when a police officer started asking him questions and pointed a gun at the officer chasing him, Columbia Police Chief Skip Holbrook said.

Credit: Jeffrey Collins

Credit: Jeffrey Collins

A white police officer in South Carolina will not face charges in the fatal shooting of an armed Black teenager in April, the prosecutor in the case has announced.

Explore»THIS WEEK: Hispanic security guard was shot 6 times — protesters demand answers

Body camera footage proved Columbia Police Department Officer Kevin Davis had “reasonable belief” of a threat when he shot 17-year-old Josh Ruffin, who pointed his handgun at the officer during a brief foot chase, Fifth Circuit Solicitor Byron Gipson said at a Wednesday news conference, where the video was also shown.

A thorough review of the investigation and the tape led to the decision not to charge the officer.

Ruffin was shot in the forehead in Richland County on April 8, about seven weeks before George Floyd’s police custody death, which sparked protests and a national debate on racism and police brutality.

Explore»MORE: Despite false alarm at NASCAR, nooses sighted in 11 cities across US

The protests have reached the streets of Columbia, with voices calling for more accountability in the Columbia Police Department, according to WIS News 10.

The officer has reportedly been on administrative duty throughout the investigation.

On the day of the shooting, Davis was patrolling the Eau Claire neighborhood after a report of car break-ins, Columbia Police Chief Skip Holbrook said at the time.

On Wednesday, Gipson revealed that a community leader alerted police to the area, telling officers in a text that teenagers had been seen prowling and looking into parked cars.

Explore»MORE: Police unions brace for fight as calls grow to ‘defund’ law enforcement

Ruffin spotted the patrolman’s car approaching and hid as the officer drove by. He emerged later from behind a house with a large bag, which is when Davis saw him, The Associated Press reported.

Davis approached on foot, and Ruffin turned and ran. A chase ensued for about 30 seconds.

The officer shouted several times for Ruffin to stop and said on his radio that Ruffin appeared to be reaching in his waistband. Ruffin then stopped and pulled out a .45 caliber pistol, Gipson said.

Davis fired 10 shots and hit Ruffin in the forehead, Gipson said.

Regional coverage

At The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, we focus primarily on Georgia news, but we also like to provide readers with regional coverage of the Southeast. We cover stories that impact our region, especially in Alabama, Florida, Arkansas, Tennessee, Louisiana, South Carolina, North Carolina and Mississippi.

  

Ruffin did not fire any shots.

Body camera footage shown at the news conference showed a gun on the ground beside a bleeding Ruffin as officers first rushed up after the shooting.

“We can’t tell you what Ruffin’s intentions were. But he was armed. He pointed the gun at the officer, and he tried to evade the officer,” Gipson said.

Explore»RELATED: Second family tragedy — Brother of man found hanged dies in police shooting

Ruffin’s shooting has been brought up at several rallies to fight racial injustice in Columbia, with demonstrators shouting “Justice for Josh!”

At the time, Holbrook said Ruffin had been shot in the upper torso.

The South Carolina Law Enforcement Division conducted the initial investigation.

— Information provided by The Associated Press was used to supplement this report.