Recently released bodycam footage shows that a sheriff’s deputy with the Greenville County, S.C., Sheriff’s Office shot and nearly killed a man who was standing inside his own home with the front door closed. The footage contradicts the initial statements from the sheriff’s office that claimed the man had opened the front door before pointing a gun at the deputy.
Sixty-two-year-old Dick Tench was woken up around midnight on June 14, 2019, by lights outside his home and a ringing doorbell. Tench retrieved his .38-caliber Smith & Wesson revolver and made his way to the front door, where he saw a man lurking on his front porch with a flashlight.
What he didn’t know is that just a few minutes prior the sheriff’s office had received a call from a medical alert service indicating that a resident of the home had triggered a silent alarm for help. A deputy responded to the location, who “rang the doorbell, but was unable to make contact with anybody inside,” according to Sheriff’s Office Capt. Tim Brown.
Brown explains that the deputy, who has not yet been identified, left the front porch to begin a perimeter check of the home, but noticed movement from inside and returned to the front door. The deputy noticed that a man inside the home was holding a gun, so he illuminated him with his flashlight. When he did so, Tench “pointed his gun” at the deputy and “in an effort to defend himself against a perceived threat, the deputy fired his issued weapon as he retreated off the porch, and subsequently struck the individual multiple times,” Brown says.
Tench was struck four times, according to Tench’s lawyer and NBC News. Tench had a bullet removed from his aorta and has a bullet that is lodged in his pelvis and will remain there. He was also grazed by bullets in the forearm and back, but has been released from the hospital and is expected to recover.
It’s unclear from the video whether the deputy identified himself before firing his weapon because the audio does not begin until 30 seconds into the segment. It’s also unclear from the video whether Tench actually raises his weapon because the glare on the window from the deputy’s flashlight makes it impossible to see through the window.
What is clear is that Tench had no idea who was ringing his doorbell and walking around his property.
“Who are you?!” Tench screams after being shot.
“The Sherriff’s office!” the officer responds.
“What are you here for?” Tench asks.
“Because we got an alarm call,” the officer says
“Oh, my God, call the cops please,” Tench answers.
“I am the cops,” the deputy responds.
The deputy asks Tench where the gun is, and Tench, who is on his knees, points to a handgun behind him.
“What the f— you doing, man?” Tench asks the deputy, as he bleeds through his shirt, the video shows.
“You pointed a gun at me, man,” the deputy answers.
“You’re in my house … I saw lights, and I heard the doorbell ring, and I got my gun. I’m a concealed-weapons guy. Get the ambulance here, I’m going to die, hurry,” Tench says. “You came to my house at 12 o’clock at night, I’m sleeping. Goddamn, I’ve got to protect my house. Oh my God, get the ambulance right now, I’m going to die. You motherf—–, I can’t believe you do this to me, man!”
“OK, we’re not going to talk about this right now, we’re going to focus on keeping you alive, so take some deep breaths, and you’re going to be OK, alright,” the deputy says as he administers first aid.
Tench’s attorney, Beattie Ashmore, told NBC News on Tuesday that after the shooting, the sheriff’s office had a press conference and a Facebook post up “for weeks” which said “Dick opened the door and aimed at the deputy.”
The sheriff’s office has since released an apology and retraction of that statement.
“After a full internal investigation, this statement has proven to be inaccurate and we retract that portion of the original statement,” Lt. Jimmy Bolt with the Sheriff’s Office said in a prepared statement. “To be clear, at no time during the internal investigation did the Deputy make such a statement, it was miscommunicated that the door was opened. In the haste of releasing information, we erred and regret any confusion this has caused.”
Tench claims in the video that he doesn’t have any kind of alarm system in his house. Further investigation revealed that the alert was received from a medical assist app from an occupant inside the residence, Brown said. However, “there was no immediate emergency that was needed.”
Tench has not been charged with a crime.