The dashcam video footage showing a South Carolina police officer’s shooting of a 70-year-old man at a traffic stop has been released. York County Deputy Terrance Knox shot Bobby Canipe when he mistook his cane for a shotgun.
Knox pulled over Canipe, a Vietnam War veteran, for having expired license plate tags. When Canipe moved to get out of the car, he reached into the truck bed for his cane. Knox believed he was reaching for a gun and pulled out his own. He fired one non-fatal shot.
The footage shows the entire incident. In a mere 15 seconds, Knox shoots Canipe, who yells,”It’s a walking stick!” Knox curses and runs to check on the man. Adding to the emotion, Knox breaks down in sobs when another officer arrives on the scene.
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"I promise to God I thought it was a shotgun," Knox says.
While Canipe’s female passenger asks Knox in hysterics who he shot, Canipe is composed, under the circumstances, and tells Knox that he’ll be ok.
Sheriff Bruce Bryant, who has worked in law enforcement for 42 years, says he “stands by” Knox.
“This officer felt at the time that he pulled the trigger, that his life was in danger, and I stand behind this officer," he said.
Bryant said Canipe wasn’t listening to the officer's instructions.
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"You watch the action of the walking cane," the sheriff told the Associated Press. "He was hollering at the man. You can't wait to see a muzzle flash before you take action because when you see the muzzle flash, it's too late."
Bryant said that while Canipe didn’t do anything wrong, it’s a bad idea to get out of your car if you’re pulled over. He will even push for a law to require instructions in driver’s manuals in the event of getting pulled over.
The incident has garnered so much negative press that the York County Sheriff’s Office has gotten hate calls.
"People have been calling using the most vile, vulgar and demoralizing language and spewing venom at the officer involved," said sheriff's office attorney Kristie Jordan. "The people taking the brunt of those horrible calls are secretaries, not the sheriff."
Canipe is recovering and is in fair condition.