Bennettsville police investigating whether officer was in pursuit of a suspect before crash

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BENNETTSVILLE, S.C. (WBTW) — Investigators are looking into whether an officer was in pursuit of a suspect in Bennettsville before he crashed his patrol car.

A Bennettsville police officer is in the hospital with injuries after striking a concrete column Tuesday morning, according to state troopers. The officer’s family has identified him as Stephen Sutton, although police have yet to release his name. His family said on Tuesday he is in stable condition at the hospital.

Police Chief Kevin Miller said they are investigating if Officer Sutton had initiated a traffic stop and whether he was chasing a suspect before he crashed at Jennings and West Main streets. The chief said there are questions whether Sutton initiated a traffic stop after a review of video from the car and radio traffic.

Initially, authorities reported the officer was in pursuit of a vehicle that was traveling at a high rate of speed. The South Carolina Highway Patrol reported Sutton was attempting to stop a vehicle after it was reportedly doing “burnouts” in the parking lot of the IGA in McColl.

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A man who owns the home where the crash happened said he and his wife awoke to find a pickup under their front porch. “We came out on the front porch and I saw a fire down on the front yard,” Rick Fisher said. “Apparently, the police car had hit a column and it overturned and burst into flames and then I saw the pickup truck underneath our front porch.”

Fisher said he never thought someone would hit his home because it’s so far from the road. “Over the years, people have driven through our yard, they’ve hit both neighbors on both sides of us, but they never hit our house,” Fisher said. “Then we move back here 300+ feet from the road and I guess somebody thought this was a road.”

The person driving the other vehicle was taken into custody. Their name has not been released.

Officer Sutton was recently hired, according to Chief Miller.

Count on News13 for updates as we work to learn more.

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