An independent autopsy has concluded that Zachary Hammond, an unarmed white 19-year-old killed by a Seneca, S.C., police officer July 26 during a drug bust, was shot from the side, contradicting what the officer said led up to the fatal shooting, The Guardian reports.
The officer claimed that the teen was driving the vehicle toward him, causing the officer to fear for his life and to fire at the young man. However, the Hammond family’s attorney Eric Bland said that the autopsy now raises questions about the validity of the police report.
“When he [the officer] shot, it was physically impossible for the car to hit him because he’s next to him [Hammond],” Bland told The Guardian. “So unless a hurricane comes and blows the car over, it’s physically impossible for him to be hit by a car at that point.”
“It is not reasonable,” the autopsy reads, according to the news site, that Hammond “would have suffered these injuries in these anatomic locations [the back of his shoulder and the side of his chest] had [he] been shot from either the rear or the front of the vehicle.”
Bland accused authorities of being “incredibly misleading” in their representation of an initial autopsy that was performed by Oconee County, S.C., Coroner Karl Addis. Addis concluded that Hammond had been hit twice, once in the shoulder and once in the chest. Officers, however, did not specify that the locations were in the back of the shoulder and the side of the chest—which, as the independent autopsy pointed out, would have made it impossible for the officer to have shot from the front.
“[The initial report] gives the impression that he shot him from the front, which is consistent with the officer’s account that the car was coming at him,” Bland said.
Seneca Police Chief John Covington, who has not identified the officer involved, said that Hammond’s car was coming from an angle, and so the shots went through the open driver’s-side window.
In the midst of the teen’s tragic death, which occurred while Hammond was on a date, according to the Washington Post, questions have also arisen about the lack of national outrage over this case, unlike what has followed the police-involved deaths of many unarmed black youths and adults.
“It’s sad, but I think the reason is, unfortunately, the media and our government officials have treated the death of an unarmed white teenager differently than they would have if this were a death of an unarmed black teen,” Bland told the Post. “The hypocrisy that has been shown toward this is really disconcerting.
“The issue should never be what is the color of the victim. The issue should be, why was an unarmed teen gunned down in a situation where deadly force was not even justified?” the family lawyer added.
Some Twitter users, however, have just one question in response to that: Where are the individuals who so insistently interrupted the #BlackLivesMatter movement claiming #AllLivesMatter? Some in social media also pointed out that #BlackLivesMatter activists have been following Hammond’s case from the get-go.