Myrtle Beach officers cleared in deadly shooting, to return to full duty

Grand Strand Crime

MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WBTW) – Two Myrtle Beach police officers have been cleared in a deadly shooting.

Officers Daniel Preciado and Thad Morgan were cleared in the October 12, 2019 shooting of Matthew Graham, according to the 15th Circuit Solicitor’s Office.

15th Circuit Solicitor Jimmy Richardson says in a letter to the SC Law Enforcement Division he reviewed SLED’s report on the shooting and “based on the information you [SLED] uncovered in your extensive investigation, there is no evidence of criminal wrongdoing on behalf” of officers Preciado and Morgan.

Solicitor Richardson said SLED’s report “makes it clear that the subject, Mr. Graham, was previously identified prior to the shooting as having active arrest warrants for discharging a weapon in city limits and was a suspect in several area burglaries.”

According to Solicitor Richardson’s letter, Myrtle Beach patrol officers were looking for Graham and “knew he frequented the area of 65th Avenue.” Myrtle Beach officers were dispatched to search for Graham after receiving a call from a convenience store clerk, who reportedly said he saw Graham around 11 p.m. on October 11, 2019.

Officers located Graham in the area of 6501 N. Kings Highway “carrying a rifle wrapped in some clothing,” Solicitor Richardson’s letter also says. Officers “began a foot pursuit which resulted in the subject running behind private homes” and “backup officers were called in to help contain the armed subject once he entered into a fence-in backyard of an innocent citizen’s residence.”

“During this time, officers positively identified Graham brandishing the weapon and tried for several hours to negotiate with him to drop the rifle, come out and surrender to police over one of the patrol car’s public address system,” Solicitor Richardson’s letter continues. “The subject did not comply, and instead entered the home owners shed, took a ladder and climbed over the fence with the rifle. Officers continued to believe the subject was still hiding in this unlit backyard until they heard a gunshot coming from the direction of Highway 17 Bypass.”

Solicitor Richardson says some officers then went towards the sound of the gunfire and that SLED’s investigation showed the subject was “subsequently spotted riding a white bicycle towards 65th Avenue North in possession of the AR-15 style rifle.” Officers then began a foot chase and the subject “crashed the bicycle on a raised curb, fell off and landed in a shallow brushy ditch beside the street.”

Solicitor Richardson further said that according to SLED’s investigation, “Graham recovered from the fall, rolled back towards the street and grabbed the rifle, pointing the muzzle of the weapon at the officers.” Officers asked Graham to “drop the gun several times then fired on the subject,” actions which Solicitor Richardson says “are captured and corroborated through video evidence of the incident.”

“The loaded rifle was recovered in possession of the subject at the time he was shot and the serial numbers prove it is the same rifle that had been stolen from a residence earlier that same day,” the solicitor also said. “Additionally, the subject’s toxicology report shows he was positive for amphetamines and cannabinoids at the time of the shooting.”

Solicitor Richardson’s full letter can be read here.

In October, News13 reported on Graham’s extensive criminal background.

Preciado and Morgan were placed on paid administrative leave in October.

The Myrtle Beach Police Department released a statement Friday afternoon, saying:

“Two officers from our police department were involved in a shooting in October 2019 and were cleared of any wrongdoing by the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division (SLED) and the Solicitor’s Office. We thank them for their thorough investigation into this incident.”

“We continue to support our officers who had to make a very difficult decision; these decisions are not taken lightly, and any loss of life is tragic,” said MBPD Chief Amy Prock. “Our officers performed their duty to the high standard of professionalism and accountability that we expect. We appreciate the community’s continued support for our team.”

Cpl. Thomas Vest, with Myrtle Beach police, said the officers “will return to full duty as schedules permit.”

Count on News13 for updates.

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