A 70-year-old man was shot by a police officer in South Carolina when he reached for his cane at a traffic stop — which the cop mistook for a gun.
Terrence Knox, 24, pulled over Bobby Canipe of Lincolnton, N.C., for an expired license plate tag. When Canipe went to pull his cane from the bed of his pickup truck, Knox panicked and shot, thinking the apparatus was a rifle.
One eyewitness, Joe Ashwell, saw the cop pull out from a parking light, turn his light on, and stop Canipe. Then he heard shots fired.
"The officer that had to do the shooting, he was really freaked out about it," Ashwell said. "He was screaming on the radio about needing help."
Friends of Canipe said he is a disabled Vietnam veteran.
Fortunately, Canipe is expected to survive, though the York County sheriff’s office wouldn’t disclose where on his body he’d been hit. He is reportedly in fair condition at Carolinas Medical Center in Charlotte.
“The situation is very unfortunate,” said sheriff’s spokesman Trent Faris at a news conference. “It does appear, at this time, that Deputy Knox’s actions were an appropriate response to what he reasonably believed to be an imminent threat to his life.”
The State Law Enforcement Division will conduct an investigation of the shooting. Knox has been a deputy for three years.