Monthly Archive: August 2016

FBI Concludes Civil Rights Investigation Against North Augusta Police Officer

021014_3It has taken nearly two years for the FBI to conclude the civil rights investigation they launched in an attempt to understand what caused a public safety officer to shoot and kill a drunk driver that they had pulled over.

In February of 2014, Justin Craven engaged in a car chase with 68-year-old Ernest Satterwhite who Craven suspected of DUI.

After Satterwhite crossed the county line dividing North Augusta from Edgefield County, Satterwhite pulled into a driveway. At this point, Craven left his own vehicle and approached Satterwhite’s.

The dashboard video shows footage of Craven pulling his weapon when he approached the Satterwhite’s vehicle. When a hand emerges from the open window, Craven pulled back, only to reinsert the gun through the weapon at which time shots are fired.

An investigation revealed that not only was Satterwhite unarmed when he was shot, he didn’t even have a weapon in his vehicle

The entire amount of time that passed from Craven first reaching the car and firing his first shot was four seconds.

Craven agreed to plead guilty to misconduct charges in April and was fired from the North Augusta Police Department. In the wake of his plea, he was sentenced to do 80 hours of community service and was placed on a three-year probation.

Craven-and-Satterwhite-500The judge tasked with issuing Craven’s sentence said that while he didn’t agree with or condone Craven’s actions, he could understand how the officer thought he was in danger.

Circuit Judge Frank Addy sentenced Craven. The Standard reported Judge Addy indicated he did not consider the shooting justified, but could understand why Craven thought he was in danger.

Special Agent Michael Stansbury was in charge of the investigation, told the press that while his portion of the investigation was over, he did not know how the Civil Rights Division of the U.S. Department of Justice would choose to handle the case.

Following the incident, North Augusta agreed to a wrongful death settlement with Satterwhite’s estate. The amount of the settlement was $1.2 million.

“These types of cases are so difficult because it’s easy to see both sides point of view,” said Attorney Joseph Sandefur of South Carolina’s top personal injury firm at “On one hand, I find the idea of what is supposed to be a highly trained police officer killing an unarmed man alarming, particularly since I put so much face in the local police departments. On the other hand, I know how much stress the officers have to deal with all the time and realize how easily they can make a mistake.”


Anytime someone dies as the direct reaction of someone else, such as being shot by a police officer, it’s considered a wrongful death, or a death that could have been prevented.

It’s important to understand that just because the defendant wasn’t found guilty of the crime, it doesn’t mean you don’t have the grounds to create a civil case against them.


Investigation Underway After Body Found Near Myrtle Beach Garden

A work crew working along the Palmetto Expressway was shocked when they discovered a body, which the Myrtle Beach-Dade medical examiner’s office confirmed was a female on the following day.

The body was located just a short distance from the main roadway where it was caught between the branches of some bushes. In order to remove the body, a crew consisting of both the police, members of the medical examiner’s office, and local county workers were forced to use saws to get through the branches and also had to cut their way through a chain link fence. The crew spent hours working to free the body.


It didn’t take long for people to realize that the body was located quite near the location where Jennifer Bennett’s car had been found abandoned.

The 27-year-old had been last seen at 5:00 pm when she left her home one evening. Her family reported that she had plans to connect with a friend for the evening, but she never made it to her final destination. The only piece of evidence the police has is her car, which was discovered abandoned near Myrtle Beach Gardens.

caution-tape-tree“It is always difficult to know just what to wish for in cases like this,” Joe and Martin, mused when he learned about the gruesome discovery. “On one hand, you want the family to be able to gain some closure, the other, you know that as long as the body of their loved one isn’t found, there’s still hope she is alive and well.

Whether it’s the body of Jennifer Bennet or not, I hope the family is paying close attention to how the police are handling the matter of their daughter’s disappearance. It’s up to the Bennet family to make sure that everything possible is being done to learn what happened to their daughter on the night she disappeared. The family wants to make sure that the police continue to investigate her disappearance and at the same time, don’t make a misstep that could jeopardize the chances of someone eventually being found guilty of the crime, whether it’s kidnapping or murder.

If the body that’s been discovered near the Palmetto Expressway does turn out to be Jennifer Bennet’s remains, I urge the family to touch base with a good attorney and discuss the possibility of filing a wrongful death claim in civil court.”

In legal terms, a wrongful death is what occurs when someone passes away as a direct result of someone else’s actions. Examples of wrongful deaths include DUI accidents, deaths caused by faulty equipment, medical malpractice deaths, and murder.

A civil case for a wrongful death can be filed by an immediate family member of the deceased which generally includes parents, children, siblings, and spouses.

These civil case for a wrongful death can result from a wide variety of discriminatory misconduct, including misconduct regarding age, disability, race and religious discrimination—as well as different types of harassment charges.

The type of lawyer you need to have on your side when you decide to file a wrongful death lawsuit is one who practices personal injury law. They have the experience and resources needed to help you file the paperwork, investigate the case, and negotiate a settlement.