Ex-Trooper Sean Groubert shooting at Levar Jones. (AP Photo)
COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) — A White former state trooper pleaded guilty Monday to assault and battery of a high and aggravated nature for the 2014 shooting an unarmed Black driver seconds after a traffic stop.
Ex-Trooper Sean Groubert faces up to 20 years in prison. He was led out of a courtroom in handcuffs after Circuit Judge Casey said he wanted time to think about Groubert’s punishment. The judge’s decision to send the 32-year-old Groubert to jail indicates he will serve some prison time.
The shooting was captured on dash-cam video from the trooper’s patrol car and shocked the country, coming during a wave of questionable police shootings.
The video shows Levar Jones walking into a convenience store in September 2014 when Groubert gets out of his patrol car and demands Jones’ driver’s license.
Jones turns back to reach into his car and Groubert fires four shots. Jones’ wallet is seen flying out of his hands.
Groubert’s boss, state Public Safety Director Leroy Smith, fired Groubert after seeing the video.
Jones was shot in the hip and survived. He walked into the courtroom Monday with a noticeable limp and played with a Rubik’s Cube before the hearing started.
Video of the encounter was played during the hearing and showed Groubert pulling up to Jones without his siren on, and the trooper asking Jones for his license after he also was out of his car.
As Jones turns and reaches back into his car, Groubert shouts, “Get outta the car, get outta the car.” He begins firing and unloads a third shot as Jones staggers away, backing up with his hands raised, and then a fourth.
From the first shot to the fourth, the video clicks off three seconds.
When Jones heard the gunfire in the courtroom video, his shoulders jerked.
In the video, Jones cried in pain waiting for an ambulance and repeated: “Why did you shoot me?”
Through Jones’ painful groans, Groubert replied: “Well, you dove head first back into your car.”
No sentencing date has been set for Groubert.