- Associated Press - Wednesday, April 1, 2015

COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) - A $1 million settlement has been reached among North Augusta police, officials in Edgefield County and the family of a 68-year-old black man shot to death by a police officer last year, the family’s attorney said Wednesday.

“All parties have settled the case,” said Carter Elliott in a telephone interview.

The case involves Ernest Satterwhite, a great-grandfather and former mechanic who was shot by 25-year-old North Augusta Public Safety Officer Justin Craven after a slow-speed car chase. The officer chased Satterwhite for 9 miles beyond North Augusta and into Edgefield County.

Elliott said the North Augusta Department of Public Safety, Edgefield County and its sheriff’s office all agreed on the settlement of the civil suit.

North Augusta paid $1,195,000 to settle the case, and Edgefield County and its sheriff’s office contributed another $2,500, Carter said.

There was no immediate response to telephone messages left with the North Augusta police, Edgefield County or Craven’s attorney, Jack Swerling.

Satterwhite was parked in his own driveway when the 25-year-old white police officer repeatedly fired through the elder man’s driver side door.

Carter said he did not know whether Craven was still employed by the police department.

The incident occurred in February 2014.

Little information about the case has been made available by public officials, and the State Law Enforcement Division denied a request filed by The Associated Press under the Freedom of Information Act to learn what evidence was gathered involving Craven.

The family’s lawsuit alleged Craven ignored Edgefield deputies’ orders to stop and let them manage the chase when it entered their county, about 2 miles from Satterwhite’s home. It claims Satterwhite never tried to grab the officer’s gun when Craven fired five times, hitting him with four bullets - two in the chest.

The family said the officers yanked the mortally wounded man out of the car, restrained him and left him on the ground unattended until paramedics arrived.

Investigators determined that Craven broke the law. A prosecutor, in a rare action against a police officer, sought to charge him with voluntary manslaughter, punishable by up to 30 years in prison. But the grand jury disagreed, indicting him on “misconduct in office” a charge used for sheriffs who make inmates do their personal work or officers who ask for bribes.

Prosecutors haven’t said why they sought a felony charge against Craven.

Seven months after Satterwhite’s funeral, and eight days after his indictment, Craven was put on administrative leave with pay.

North Augusta’s Public Safety Department has refused to release any details about Craven’s history and city officials did not make him available for interviews. He did not respond to emails after the suit was filed.


Jeffrey Collins contributed to this report from Columbia, South Carolina.

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