ANDERSON, S.C. —Authorities said a woman was killed following a police chase that ended with gunfire in Anderson on Friday night.
Lt. Tony Tilley of Anderson Police Department said officers responded to a call about a shoplifter at the Kohl’s on Clemson Boulevard.
Police said officers put up blue lights trying to stop the suspect, but she took off and a chase began.
The chase ended in the Appleton Street area. According to police, two officers in a patrol car stopped her and they were outside their vehicle, then a passenger with McDowell got out and ran, but was later arrested. Authorities said another police car was behind McDowell, which she backed into, then she drove toward the officers outside their vehicle in front of her.
“We had a couple of officers who had already gotten out of their car. The suspect then turned the car toward them and tried to run them down and they responded with gunfire,” Tilley said.
The driver was killed.
Coroner Greg Shore identified the driver as Sharon McDowell, 49, of Anderson.
The McDowell family claims the officers unnecessarily fired 27 shots, one of which hit Sharon in the neck and killed her.
Tom Dunaway is the McDowell family attorney who said the evidence shows something different.
“Clearly the officers were not being confronted by Sharon,” Dunaway said. “If anything, she was trying to run from them.”
According to a lawsuit filed by Dunaway against the city, officers fired 27 shots at McDowell’s car. The suit also alleges that the officers violated the city’s chase policy.
“This was a non-felony charge and certainly one that wouldn’t require them to use excessive force,” Dunaway said.
An officer at the scene manually activated his body camera and Stewart said the footage indicates the officer acted to protect himself.
“The officer fell,” Stewart said. “He didn’t think he would have time to get up as the vehicle came at him. He did what he had to protect his life.”
Annie McDowell, the victim’s mother, said she also saw the body camera video and had a different opinion: “It was unbelievable for a police officer to be so unconcerned about a human’s life.”