SC police chief in fatal shooting was fired as a deputy, report says

The scene of the shooting area. (Source: WCSC)
The scene of the shooting area. (Source: WCSC)
EUTAWVILLE, SC (WCSC) -Records released to Live 5 News on Tuesday indicate that the Eutawville Police Chief involved in Monday's fatal shooting outside the town hall was fired by the Orangeburg County Sheriff's Office for "unsatisfactory performance" in August 2007.

According to a report released by the South Carolina Criminal Justice Academy, Richard J. Combs was terminated by the Orangeburg County Sheriff's Office for violation of agency policy not involving misconduct, good character, or moral turpitude.

The report goes on to state that examples of this type of termination include,"substandard perfromance, excessive absenteeism, sleeping on duty, etc."

The report also states that the sheriff's office would not rehire Combs because of "unsatisfactory performance."

The Orangeburg County Coroner's Office says that 54-year-old Bernard Bailey, of 350 Torrington Road, died of a gunshot wound. Authorities say the shooting happened in the 200 block of Porcher Avenue in front of the town hall.

Residents said Monday that Bailey came to the town hall to pay a water bill and to inquire about a traffic ticket that his daughter had gotten. They say after that, the deadly shots rang out. An autopsy is scheduled for Tuesday.

"It was just shocking. It's devastating. He was a well-known family man. He's a good person. No one has anything bad to say about him," Mona Lisa Wright said.

The State Law Enforcement Division is investigating the officer-involved shooting in Eutawville at the request of the Orangeburg County Sheriff's Office.

SLED and the sheriff's office have not released many details of the incident. The shooting took place in a parking lot that is between the Eutawville Town Hall and a Dollar General store.

Dozens of residents were gathered at the scene following the shooting. A tan Chevrolet pickup truck, said to belong to Bailey, was parked on a curb in front of town hall with the door open. The truck was later covered with a white sheet.

The Eutawville Police Department is a one-person force with only Combs as police chief. He took office following the resignation of the former chief in February.

Prior to accepting that position, Combs worked for the Elloree Police Department.  He was hired in December of 2007, four months after his termination by the Orangeburg County Sheriff's Office.

Those who knew Bailey say he was a husband, father of two, and an inspiration. They say he left the small town to work at Wal-mart in Summerville.

"He had more job opportunities, when I couldn't get jobs. He was willing to help people. He was a person willing to help. He wanted to see you grow, and see you get it, but it get it the right, honest way," Bailey's cousin Mendel Gathers said.

Orangeburg County Sheriff's Office vehicles were present near the town hall for most of the morning and afternoon while officers processed the scene. The entire town hall was roped off with yellow police tape.

SLED agents say Combs was taken to the hospital for treatment, but he has since been released.

Eutawville, is a small eastern-Orangeburg County town.

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