CHARLESTON, S.C. (AP) — The retrial of a former South Carolina police chief charged with murder in the shooting death of an unarmed black man has been moved from the county where the shooting happened.
Former Eutawville (yoo-TAH-vill) Police Chief Richard Combs, who is white, was charged with murder after shooting Bernard Bailey three times in May 2011.
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The case went to trial in Orangeburg County in January. Jurors who heard a week of testimony deliberated for 12 hours before telling Circuit Judge Edgar Dickson they could not reach a verdict, prompting him to declare a mistrial.
Last Friday, Dickson signed an order moving the retrial from Orangeburg to Columbia, about 35 miles away. Jury selection begins Monday.
Combs' attorneys asked for, but were denied, a change of venue when the original trial opened.
Attorney Wally Fayssoux of Greenville argued at the time that the publicity surrounding the trial — after weeks of protests nationwide over the killings of blacks by white law officers — made it impossible to get a fair trial in Orangeburg.
He declined to comment Tuesday on the change of venue order. Solicitor David Pascoe did not respond to a message left by The Associated Press seeking comment.
When Combs was indicted last December, the case drew comparisons to the shooting of a black man in Ferguson, Missouri, and the chokehold death of a black man by police officers in New York.
Since then, there have been other cases involving the deaths of unarmed black men during or following their arrests, including the April shooting of an unarmed black man by a North Charleston police officer and a black man who died in April of injuries received while in police custody in Baltimore.
Combs faces 30 years to life if convicted.
The shooting happened after he tried to arrest Bailey on an obstruction-of-justice warrant that prosecutors contend was trumped up. The defense said Combs fired in self-defense when he was caught in the door of Bailey's moving truck.
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