South Carolina officer charged in fatal shooting following high-speed chase, authorities say


(NEW YORK) -- A South Carolina police officer has been charged with voluntary manslaughter after fatally shooting an unarmed man who led her on a high-speed pursuit, authorities said.

The incident began early Sunday, when Hemingway Police Officer Cassandra Dollard, 52, attempted to pull over 46-year-old Robert Langley for "disregarding a stop sign" in Williamsburg County at 1:24 a.m., according to an arrest warrant.

Langley "failed to stop" and a chase ensued, according to the warrant. After allegedly traveling over 100 mph, Langley crashed his car into a ditch in neighboring Georgetown County at around 1:30 a.m., according to the warrant.

Langley attempted to exit the car through the front passenger door and Dollard fired her gun once, striking him in the chest, according to the warrant.

Dollard reportedly told investigators she fired her gun because she was "in fear for her safety," according to the warrant.

"Dollard stated she did not identify a weapon in Langley's hands, nor was a weapon recovered at the scene," South Carolina Law Enforcement Division Special Agent Ashley Jolda said in the arrest warrant affidavit, which noted that Dollard had no authority to arrest Langley outside of Williamsburg County.

Langley was transported to a local hospital, where he died from his injuries, authorities said. An autopsy is scheduled for Friday morning, the Georgetown County Coroner's Office said.

Dollard was arrested Wednesday afternoon by SLED agents and booked into the Georgetown County Detention Center. At a hearing Thursday, Chief Magistrate Judge Isaac Pyatt set bond at $150,000 and said that Dollard cannot leave the state without telling prosecutors. The judge also ordered that she not make contact with Langley's family.

Dollard's attorney asked for a "modest bond," citing her commitment to service and limited financial means. The defense also argued that Dollard was not a flight risk or a danger to the community.

"Cassandra is very sorry for what happened on Sunday morning and she grieves with the Langley family," the attorney, Rose Mary Parham, said.

Prosecutors, meanwhile, argued that the nature of the crime demanded a high bond.

During the hearing, Langley’s mother gave an emotional statement pleading for the "highest bond" possible.

“I loved my son with all my heart. And when they came and told me that he was killed unjustifiably, it killed me and his family," Roslyn Langley said through tears. "Nobody understands what I’m going through right now about my son. My son meant the world to me."

Dollard met bond and was released from the detention center several hours after the hearing, according to the Georgetown County Sheriff's website.

SLED agents are seeking to conduct interviews with potential witnesses and are collecting evidence as part of their investigation into the shooting, the agency said.

The Hemingway Police Department said following the shooting that it is in "full cooperation with SLED" during the investigation and referred all questions to the agency.

SLED said it is not releasing any additional information on the case at this time.

Dollard, whose law enforcement career dates back to 1992, was fired from two different positions for issues including "negligence" and "poor performance," state records obtained by ABC News show.

In 2002, she was fired from the Johnsonville, South Carolina, Police Department after eight years on the job for “poor performance," according to the records. The current chief of police, whose stint with Johnsonville began shortly after Dollard's ended, declined to comment when asked by ABC News for more information about her termination.

After a four-year stint with another police department, Dollard left for a job with State Transport Police, a branch of the South Carolina Department of Public Safety. After eight years she was fired in 2014 for several offenses, including "negligence in the performance of duty," "willful violation of rules" and "improper conduct," according to the records. In a statement to ABC News about her termination, the division cited an incident in which Dollard reportedly fired her department-issued firearm while on a morning jog "after she said she felt threatened by two pit bull dogs at a residence." It was unclear if the dogs were hit, according to the statement.

"She did not notify her supervisor, which is required by department policy, until six hours later," the division said.

ABC News has also reached out to the Hemingway Police Department, which hired her in September, for comment.

An attorney for Langley's family said prosecutors showed them dashcam video of the deadly encounter Wednesday morning.

"We do know that Robert Langley should be alive today," attorney Bakari Sellers said during a press conference held hours before Dollard's arrest. "We do know that he was taken from us in a cruel fashion, in an unjust fashion."

Langley, a father of 10 and a new grandfather, "posed no threat" to the officer, according to Sellers.

"I don't know if she was having a bad day or what, but murder should not have been on the menu," Sellers said.

Following Thursday's hearing, attorneys for the family told reporters they thought the bond was "reasonable and justified."

"The state of South Carolina failed this family," Sellers said. "This woman should not have been on the streets. She was already fired twice."

ABC News' Will McDuffie contributed to this report.

Thursday, February 10, 2022 at 8:00PM by Meredith Deliso, ABC News Permalink