HORRY COUNTY, S.C. (WBTW) — During a press conference Thursday, the friends and family of a man killed Saturday in an officer-involved shooting in Horry County said he was murdered.
Tristan Vereen died at Grand Strand Medical Center Saturday after being shot by a South Carolina Highway Patrol trooper after fleeing from a traffic stop. The Racial Justice Network held a press conference with the family to call for answers and transparency.
Elder James Johnson, the national president with the Racial Justice Network said four kids are now left without a father and no one should die because of a cracked windshield.
Vereen allegedly sped away from a traffic stop in the area of Highway 905 and Highway 22 and crashed into a utility building on McNeil Chapel Road, according to the South Carolina Department of Public Safety. Vereen attempted to run away and “a struggle ensued,” when the trooper attempted to place the suspect under arrest. SLED and SCDPS confirm the trooper shot Vereen during this confrontation.
“After watching that video, I believe he was murdered,” Johnson said.
The video shown to the family has not been released to the public or viewed by News13. Tristan’s older brother called it painful and senseless.
“There was no reason my brother should have died that day,” he said. “No reason whatsoever.”
Steve Schmutz, the attorney for the Vereen family said he hopes officials do the right thing with the case.
“It’s a bit unusual for the solicitor’s office and SLED to share information with us this quickly, and I’m going to take that as they are going to do the right thing throughout this case,” he said.
“Duke was a good person and he still is a good man,” Quantrell Jones said. “The police showed us a video that had no audio, a crazy angle, that I don’t believe is going to help their case at all. I think we have a nice case and Duke deserves justice.”
Vereen’s dad said Tristan died because he was Black.
“Everybody’s talking about a broken windshield. He died because of who he was, the color he was,” he said. “Once they look at you, that’s it.”
Vereen’s dad said no one stopped for a traffic ticket should have to die.
“I looked at that video and I saw my son running away and they pushed him down,” he said. “He was trying to get away and they wouldn’t even let him get away.”