Police: Man killed in officer-involved shooting was fleeing on stolen bike with rifle; had extensive criminal background

News13 Digital First

MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WBTW) – News13 is learning more about Saturday morning’s officer-involved shooting in Myrtle Beach and about the man who was killed.

The shooting

Matthew Graham, 32, of Loris was fatally shot around 2 a.m. Saturday on 65th Avenue in Myrtle Beach.

A police report is shedding more light on what led up to the shooting.

Myrtle Beach officers responded to reports of a break-in on Lagoon Place around 1:20 Saturday morning, the police report states.

A victim told police someone stole a Specialized white bicycle from their garage worth around $600. That reportedly happened sometime between 4 p.m. Friday and early Saturday morning. The bike’s owner wasn’t home when it was taken, but noticed it was gone when they returned home.

Graham is listed as the suspect in this case.

Police talked with a neighbor, who allegedly saw Graham climbing over a fence using a ladder he reportedly got from a locked shed around midnight.

That’s when officers created a perimeter around Graham, who was in a wooded area at the corner of 65th Avenue North and Wildwood Trail.

Around 2 a.m., officers reportedly saw Graham trying to flee the scene with the stolen bike while holding a rifle.

That’s when police shot him near the corner of 65th Avenue North and Wildwood Trail.

Matthew Graham
Credit: J. Reuben Long Detention Center

The South Carolina Law Enforcement Division began investigating the incident Saturday, per established protocol, Myrtle Beach police tells News13.

By around 9:30 that morning, authorities could be seen examining the area behind crime scene tape. A bicycle was visible near the center of the crime scene.

No officers were hurt during the incident.

Graham’s criminal history

News13 has also learned more about Graham’s extensive criminal record.

You may remember the meth lab bust at the Canterbury Apartments back in May.

Graham and a Myrtle Beach woman were arrested and charged with the manufacture of methamphetamine, 1st offense, and manufacturing near a school.

J. Reuben Long Detention Center records say Graham was released on June 10 after being held on a $20,000 bond.

Horry County police also arrested Graham just a few weeks ago. Graham was booked into J. Reuben after being charged with possession of a firearm and ammunition and with possession of less than one gram of meth or cocaine.

He was released Sept. 24 on those charges.

A SLED background check obtained by News13 reveals a criminal history dotted with charges going back to 2005.

The background check shows Graham was convicted of arson in 2006 and again in 2012.

Through the years, he’s also been convicted of breaking and entering, assault and battery 1st degree, grand larceny, hit and run, along with multiple drug and gun charges.

The investigation

The two officers involved in Saturday morning’s shooting have been placed on paid administrative leave, MBPD confirms to News13. That’s standard procedure whenever an officer-involved shooting ends with a fatality.

MBPD is not able to release many details about the incident while it’s under investigation by SLED.

However, department spokesperson Cpl. Thomas Vest referred News13 to their 830-page Policies and Procedures Manual for more information.

It says any officer involved in a ‘deadly force incident’ will be placed on a leave ‘without loss of pay or benefits.’

Any officer involved in a deadly force incident will be placed on Administrative Leave directly upon his or her preliminary report of the incident. This initial, non-disciplinary leave shall be without the loss of pay or benefits pending the results of the investigation. The assignment to Administrative Leave shall not be interpreted to imply or indicate that the officer acted improperly. While on Administrative Leave, the officer shall remain available at all times for official Department business, including interviews and statements regarding the use of force incident, and may be recalled to duty at any time. Upon returning to duty, the officer may be assigned to Administrative Duty for a period of time deemed appropriate by the officer, his counselor or psychologist, and the Chief of Police. The Administrative Captain will notify the officer or officers by letter of their placement on Administrative Leave as well as any subsequent change to Administrative Duty.

Myrtle Beach Police Department Policies and Procedures Manual

The manual also says officers involved in the administration of deadly force will be required to undergo a psychological debriefing.

The debriefing is to ‘assist the officer in dealing with the emotional and psychological after-effects of the incident.’

It’s noted the debriefing will not be related to the department’s investigation of the incident. The counselor, though, will be charged with providing the department with a recommendation for when the officer is fit to return to duty.

In all cases where any person has been injured or killed as a result of a firearm discharge or as a result of the use of deadly force by an officer, the involved officers will be required to undergo a debriefing with a Department-provided mental health counselor or psychologist as soon as possible after the incident. The purpose of this debriefing is to assist the officer in dealing with the emotional and psychological after-effects of the incident. Given this is for the benefit of the officer, the debriefing will not be related to any department investigation of the incident. The counselor will, however, provide the department with a recommendation on when the officers will be fit to return to duty. The officer’s supervisor will contact the Administrative Division Capt

Myrtle Beach Police Department Policies and Procedures Manual

The South Carolina Law Enforcement Division continues its investigation into this officer-involved shooting.

In a press release issued to media Monday, the agency said their investigation will conduct interviews while gathering and analyzing forensic evidence.

“SLED conducts law enforcement officer-involved shooting investigations at the request of the agency involved in the incident,” the press release said. “These independent investigations follow SLED’s guidance in conducting interviews along with the gathering and analysis of forensic evidence. Interviews are being conducted with the responding officers and others.”

SLED says this was South Carolina’s 37th officer-involved shooting so far in 2019. The last time MBPD was involved in an officer-involved shooting was Sept. 2017. Myrtle Beach PD had a total of three that year.

News13 has filed Freedom of Information Requests for dashboard camera video and body camera video of the incident.

Count on us as we continue to follow this developing story.

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