MARION, S.C. (WBTW) — A civil rights group is calling for two Marion police officers to be fired and charged with murder after they shot and killed a man earlier this month.
29-year-old Prince Gurley was shot and killed May 5 after officers on patrol noticed a disturbance between him and his mother.
Representatives from the Racial Justice Network said those officers ignored Gurley’s mother when she told them to leave — which they believe was the first of several mistakes.
Body camera footage shows Gurley lunge at an officer with a knife before being shot dead. That officer was released from the hospital later that day.
A lawyer hired by Gurley’s family and a mental health professional joined the Racial Justice Network for a news conference Monday. The attorney, Allison Fultz of the David Aylor Law Offices said she and the family are conducting an investigation of their own.
The group said the officer who killed Gurley acted too rashly.
“We know that a split-second decision of a fairly new officer resulted in a loss of life for Gurley and the loss of his family enjoying him,” Fultz said.
According to the Racial Justice Network, documents shared by Gurley’s family show he had a history of mental illness, and the group believes the situation should have been handled differently with that in mind. They said officers need to be trained in de-escalation and dealing with people with mental illness in distress.
“When they see an officer, it scares them to death, so they go into a defensive mode,” Elder James Johnson, the group’s president and CEO said. “That’s what Mr. Prince did — went into a defensive mode, figuring he was being attacked.”
Chief Tony Flowers of the Marion Police Department said the department already conducts de-escalation training. He said he wasn’t able to comment further due to the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division’s ongoing investigation of the incident.