A former South Carolina state trooper was arrested Wednesday, a week after he was fired for shooting an unarmed man during a traffic stop. Sean Grouber, who shot 35-year-old Levar Jones on Sept. 4, faces a charge of assault and battery of a high and aggravated nature, a felony which carries a maximum of 20 years in prison.
In a dashcam video of the encounter that was released Wednesday, Jones is seen standing outside his car, then turning around and grabbing his license inside the vehicle at the request of the officer. Groubert, 31, then yells: “Get out of the car!” Jones does, and Groubert opens fire, striking him in the leg.
After being shot, Jones is ordered to the ground by Groubert. “I just got my license, you said get my license,” Jones says. “What did I do?”
Groubert’s answer: “You dove headfirst back into your car … I told you to get out of your car.”
“I’m sorry, I didn’t hear two words,” Jones replies. “My license is right here on the ground.”
When Jones asks why he was pulled over, Groubert says it was for a seatbelt violation.
Groubert also asks Jones if he was hit, and later tells him to “hang tight” as they await medical assistance. Jones was wounded in the hip, and has since been released from a hospital, his attorney told WLTX, the CBS affiliate in Columbia, S.C.
According to the arrest warrant, Groubert “did without justification unlawfully shoot Levar Jones which produced great bodily injury or was likely to cause great bodily injury. Audio and visual recordings, as well as written statements, obtained are further evidence to indicate the shooting incident was without justification.”
According to WLTX, South Carolina Department of Public Safety Director Leroy Smith fired Groubert on Sept. 19 after reviewing the video and additional materials from the State Law Enforcement Division.
On Wednesday, Groubert pleaded not guilty and was freed on $75,000 bond. His attorney, Barney Giese, told WIX-TV that the video above could be interpreted in more than one way. Giese added that Jones was “aggressively” reaching for his license, leading his client to believe he was grabbing a firearm.