FLORENCE, SC (WBTW) – The state constable who shot a man in Florence last Saturday claimed the man almost ran him over during a traffic stop, police body camera video reveals.

Florence police released hours of dash cam and body cam video on Tuesday night.

The constable, Christopher Bachochin, was riding with a Florence police officer Saturday night. In a body camera video, the police officer said they pulled the man over for crossing the center line on the road. The officer also said he smelled marijuana.

The officer repeatedly asked the man to get out of his car. The man put his car in reverse and hit a police cruiser. The constable fired eight shots, according to 12th circuit solicitor Ed Clements. The man took off.

After the shooting, someone heard on a body camera video asked a police officer whether anyone had been in danger. “I was on the passenger side and when I saw him try to gun the gas, I just broke hell,” the officer said. “He threw it into reverse, backed into my car, I have no idea who was behind my car because I was on the other side of the car and I just saw him gunning. I backed up left. He backed up and then he just dropped it in drive. The second he dropped it in drive it was just bang, bang, bang.”

News13 doesn’t know the number of times the man was hit, but SLED said he was released from the hospital Monday night.

Florence Mayor Stephen Wukela said the video spoke for itself. “The whole incident is troubling. We have confidence that the SLED will investigate this matter and treat it fully and fairly.” Wukela didn’t indicate why he thought the shooting was troubling.

Constable’s background

According to records obtained by News13 from the South Carolina Criminal Justice Academy, Bachochin worked for the Darlington Police Department from 1998 to 2003. In one of the body cam videos, a police officer said the constable had been riding with Florence police on Saturdays for weeks.

Mayor Wukela said the constable was riding along with a Florence police officer so we could maintain his certification. “The city of Florence isn’t in a supervisory position. The constable’s not in the chain of command in the city of Florence in any way.”

News13 asked SLED whether the mayor’s statement about supervision was true. SLED spokesperson Thom Berry directed News13 to two SLED policies for constables.

One of the policies said, in part, “An agency requesting the assistance of a State Constable is fully liable and responsible for the supervision and actions of the constable and for injuries to, or damages resulting from, actions by the constable.” City manager Drew Griffin told News13 he doesn’t think this policy applies to the situation in Florence because the constable was training and on a ride-along. 

Berry also pointed News13 to a policy that says “Advanced State Constables may perform law enforcement activities: 3. As directed by a chief of police or sheriff. 4. Under the supervision of and in proximate contact with a full-time on-duty law enforcement officer.”

An agency must request State Constable assistance in writing, according to state policy. News13 requested the letter from SLED. 

What’s next

Solicitor Ed Clements told News13 that SLED is reviewing the dash cam and body cam video.

The solicitor said he’ll review all of the evidence and decide whether anyone should be charged. That’s common practice when  a law enforcement officer shoots someone.

The Florence Police Department said it put its constable program under review.