The 15th Judicial Circuit Solicitor’s Office on Wednesday released video of the September 11 shooting incident that took the life of 33-year-old father Tristan Vereen of Longs.
The video shows S.C. Highway Patrol Master Trooper Whittney Blake (W.B.) Benton pulling into a property following a vehicle driven by Vereen, who was driving a silver SUV. The solicitor’s office said Benton had been pursing Vereen along S.C. 905, and Vereen’s family said he was pulled over for a crack in the windshield.
The video shows Vereen hopping out of the SUV while it was still moving and darting back behind a trailer on the property. Benton followed him, and Vereen ran around the property with Benton in pursuit. Then, the video shows, Vereen falls down. The view from the Ring doorbell camera is obscured and it’s not possible to see exactly why Vereen went to the ground.
Benton's dashcam video did not record the encounter and Benton had not been issued a body camera, according to the South Carolina Department of Public Safety.
The video shows that as Benton approaches, a struggle ensues. According to the solicitor’s office, Vereen bit Benton on the arm and also took possession of Benton’s tazer, using it to taze him in the neck. Photos show Benton’s injuries, including a bit mark and taser marks.
The South Carolina Department of Public Safety said Benton required surgery for injuries sustained during the incident, but it declined to say what surgery was required or which injuries required surgery.
At one point, during the struggle, Vereen pinned Benton to the ground. It's at this point that Benton shoots Vereen, who falls away from Benton before getting up and walking away while taking his shirt off.
Benton had been with the South Carolina Highway Patrol since 2010.
The South Carolina Law Enforcement Division is investigating the shooting.
The solicitor's office said the video of the incident had been shown to Vereen's family and that it has received no other video of the incident from SLED. It chose to release the video in the interest of transparency.
"Generally, we would wait until the investigation is complete before releasing any information, however a certain amount of misinformation was circulating in the community and this is our effort to alleviate any misinformation," the solicitor's office said in a news release.