On Feb 9, 2014, North Augusta Officer Justin Gregory Craven was arrested for the shooting and killing of Ernest Satterwhite in Augusta, Georgia. During a traffic stop, Satterwhite was signaled by Craven to pull his car over, but Satterwhite drove a short distance to his driveway and stopped. That is when Craven and another officer approached the car and Craven fired into the car, hitting the senior citizen several times. The officer originally stated that Satterwhite tried to take the officer’s gun; however, evidence showed Satterwhite had never even exited his car.
This week, Craven entered a plea of guilty on the charges of misconduct in office for killing Satterwhite. The presiding judge in the trial shockingly sentenced Craven to only three years of probation and 80 hours of community service. Craven’s attorney, Jack Swerling, said, “We couldn’t have asked for a better outcome, as far as the sentence is concerned. We got probation, no house arrest, and he’s pretty much free to go and live his life the way he wants. He’s got a young family, he’s got a job, and, but for this incident in his life, he’s unblemished.”
Satterwhite’s family was outraged by the lenient sentence given by the judge, who declared that the shooting wasn’t like other officer-involved killings that have garnered notoriety in recent years. This was in reference to the police shooting of unarmed Black man Walter Scott that also garnered national attention. Satterwhite was shot within seconds of Craven approaching his car; still, he claimed that the senior citizen attempted to reach for his gun and he was in fear of his life. However, video footage of the incident showed that this was not the case. Satterwhite’s family received a $1.25 million settlement from the city for his death. To date, South Carolina towns and cities have shelled out more than $25 million to settle lawsuits in questionable officer involved shootings.