What is the Aiken County Sheriff’s Office policy on using force?

Published: May. 23, 2022 at 6:58 PM EDT
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AIKEN, S.C. (WRDW/WAGT) - We have new details after a deadly shooting involving an Aiken County deputy.

The sheriff’s office says it started just before 1 a.m. Saturday on East Pine Log Road after 58-year-old Arthur age failed to pull over for a traffic stop.

We’re told Page led deputies on a chase down Whiskey Road onto Highway 278. He then got on to the Palmetto Parkway to get on I-20 East.

Officials say Deputy Christopher Owens shot Page at least once. The coroner pronounced him dead at the scene. In a new report released, the sheriff’s office confirms Page was not armed.

We looked at Aiken County’s use-of-force policy and how officers should respond.

The ACSO’s use-of-force policy says deputies are allowed to use deadly force only ‘when they reasonably believe it’s in defense of human life, including their own.’

They say Owens thought Page had a weapon, and while giving him care, the deputy confirmed what Page pointed at the deputy was not a firearm.

Because this incident falls under the parameters for use of deadly force, Owens did not have to use less-lethal techniques.

Techniques included chemical agents, a stun gun, and a bean bag shotgun. Each Aiken County deputy has trained annually on the use-of-force policy.

But how did this stem from what should have been a routine traffic stop?

The ACSO’s pursuit policy says the deputy may start a pursuit when a suspect refuses to stop. In this case, reports say when Owens turned on his blue lights, Page sped away.

Because he was on a motorcycle, tire deflating devices and the PIT maneuver could not be used.

All sworn members of the agency must complete a pursuit training course. Owens has been with the sheriff’s office for a little over a year and is now on paid leave.

Experts tell us there is a lot of gray area in this kind of pursuit.

The reports we have so far don’t offer more details that could explain why the pursuit was not called off, what the officer thought Page had in his hand, other methods of force, or other specific procedures. SLED is investigating all of those details.

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