- Associated Press - Monday, July 27, 2015

COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) - South Carolina remains on a pace to have the most officer-involved shootings in at least 15 years after a 19-year-old man was killed Sunday by a police officer helping with a drug sting and another shooting on Monday near Lexington.

Zachary Hammond was shot twice in the chest around 8:20 p.m. Sunday after accelerating his car toward an officer in a fast food restaurant parking lot, Oconee County Coroner Karl Addis said in a statement.

Hammond had driven a 23-year-old woman to the parking lot after an undercover officer arranged to buy drugs from her, according to a police report.

After a small bag of marijuana was found in the front seat of Hammond’s car, Tori Morton was charged with simple possession of marijuana and released, police said. A phone listing for her was out of service Monday, and relatives of Hammond could not be found.

The undercover officer pulled up beside Hammond’s car to buy the drugs and the officer in uniform was coming up to help with any arrests when Hammond drove his car toward the lawman, Seneca Police Chief John Covington said in a statement.

An autopsy will be conducted Tuesday, Addis said.

The officer, whose name was not released, has been put on administrative leave while the State Law Enforcement Division investigates the shooting, Covington said.

Lexington County deputies reported an officer fired on someone Monday, but released few details. SLED is also investigating that incident, which is the 29th officer-involved shooting this year. The state is on pace for 51 officer-involved shootings in 2015, eclipsing the previous 15-year high of 45 officer shootings in 2012.

Shootings involving police officers in South Carolina have been on the rise since 27 were reported in 2009, with more than 40 reported in each of the past three years.

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Follow Jeffrey Collins on Twitter at https://twitter.com/JSCollinsAP

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