No charges filed against deputy who shot SC homeowner; attorney says homeowner will file lawsuit

State - Regional

IMPSONVILLE, S.C. (WSPA) – A Greenville County deputy will not face charges after shooting a Simpsonville homeowner in June.

An assistant South Carolina attorney general reviewed the case and wrote “it is my legal opinion that the officer used lawful force under the circumstances” in a disposition letter.

Deputy Kevin Azarra was responding to an alarm call at homeowner Dick Tench’s house in Simpsonville on June 14. Body camera footage released by the Greenville County Sheriff’s Office shows Tench had a gun inside the home.

The footage also shows the Azarra shooting Tench through a window by the closed front door. According to Tench’s attorney Beattie Ashmore, Tench was shot four times in the groin and chest. Ashmore told News13’s sister station WSPA 7News several weeks ago that Tench is recovering.

From the body camera footage, it appears that Tench did not realize a law enforcement officer was at his house at the time of the shooting.

The Greenville County Sheriff’s Office originally released a statement saying the homeowner opened the door and pointed a gun directly at the deputy. The body camera footage released later showed that the door was closed when Azarra pulled the trigger. The sheriff’s office walked back that part of their statement, saying they made a mistake in the rush to release information.

Authorities said Azarra was cleared in an internal sheriff’s office investigation and has since been back on patrol.

Ashmore told WSPA 7News that Tench wants Azarra off the streets.

“We will be filing a lawsuit in federal court,” Ashmore said Tuesday in an email to WSPA 7News. “Dick Tench was shot numerous times in his own home by a GCSO deputy through his front door window. The GCSO held a press conference and released a statement saying that Dick opened his front door and pointed a gun at the deputy. The body cam footage proved that version of events to be completely false. Dick looks forward to the day he can seek justice from a Federal jury.”

Ashmore declined to say what law or laws he believes Azarra broke, but said in an email, “In essence, every person has the right to be free to enjoy the comforts of their own home without being shot through the window by a deputy.”

13th Circuit Solicitor Walt Wilkins referred the case to the South Carolina Attorney General’s Office because Wilkins’ office previously investigated Azarra in a deputy-involved shooting in 2017. Wilkins declined to bring charges against Azarra in that case.

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