Judge grants mental health evaluation of man charged in deadly Florence ambush

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FLORENCE, SC (WBTW) – A judge granted a mental health evaluation for the man charged in the October ambush shooting of several police officers in Florence.

Solicitor Ed Clements, with the 12th Circuit Solicitor’s Office, asked for the evaluation after Hopkins sent letters to a news outlet claiming he suffers from PTSD after serving in the Army.

In the letters, Hopkins said he suffered from flashbacks, nightmares, “erratic” reactions to stress and claimed to also have stroke-like collapses.

The judge read the three letters and on Monday granted the evaluation order. He also put a gag order in place so Hopkins, the solicitor’s office and the police can no longer release information regarding the case.  

Clements requested the gag order, saying there is information he wishes hadn’t come out.

“This issue has come all out into the public domain about what arguments would be made as to him suffering from PTSD, and it making him not be criminally responsible or not to be competent at that time. Now should be time that we get an order to pursue that,” Clements told the judge.

Hopkins’ legal representative Aimee Zmroczek also said she wanted a gag order because Hopkins didn’t need to be connecting to the media. Zmroczek told the judge she didn’t even know about the motions hearing until she read it on an article.

“There’s an article where Mr. Clements had said he was bringing him over to have him evaluated and at that point, just as a member of the Bar, your honor, I was concerned,” Zmroczek said.

Zmroczek told the judge of her sudden decision to represent Hopkins and asked for extra time to collect records from the Veterans Association. The judge did not set a date for the evaluation, but he expects it to occur during the legal process.

Hopkins, 74, is charged in connection to the October shooting of several law enforcement officers in Florence’s Vintage Place neighborhood.

Eight people were shot during the shooting on October 3, including seven law enforcement officers. Sgt. Terrence Carraway was killed in the shooting and Inv. Farrah Turner died on Oct. 22. 

Florence County Sheriff’s Office investigator Sarah Miller returned to work in early April after being injured in the shooting.

Florence Police Sgt. Scott Williamson was also injured in the shooting and returned to limited duty on April 2.

In January, News13 reported that a pre-filed bill in the South Carolina Senate, intended to change rules regarding the handling of officer-involved shootings across the state, was pushed through a Senate subcommittee, and would go to the full judiciary committee.

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