The Rev. James Johnson, president of the South Carolina Racial Justice Network, speaks at a news conference Friday at the Richland County Sheriff’s Department.  The group is seeking an outside inquiry into the officer-involved shooting of Irvin Charley.

A group of pastors and legal representatives asked Richland County Sheriff’s Department Friday to take more responsibility for an officer-involved shooting that left a mentally ill man dead.

Irvin Charley, 34, was shot to death by a Richland County deputy Saturday evening shortly after a family member called 911, saying he was attacking family members with a knife.

Charley, who family members said suffered from a mental illness, was known to deputies due to multiple calls to the residents.

“He did not have to die. They did not follow the policy and procedures to de-escalate the situation. We want answers,” The Rev. James Johnson, president of the South Carolina Racial Justice Network, said outside the Richland County Sheriff’s Department on Two Notch Road.

Richland County Sheriff Leon Lott has said that the shooting by Deputy Zachary Hentz was justified because Hentz and another officer on the scene feared for their lives. Charley was armed with a 15-inch stake and charged the officers shortly before the shots were fired. The pastors and attorneys have called for an outside investigation.

 Shaquanna Cuttino, the family’s personal attorney, said she believed the officer were too hasty in assessing the situation.

“There was time to call the mental health crisis unit that the sheriff’s department put into place years ago,” Cuttino said. “There was time.”

The Rev. Charles Glover, vice president of the Racial Justice Network and a former employee of the Charleston County Sheriff Department, said he did not think the deputies followed correct procedure.

“You will be held accountable,” he said. There is no exception to it. You’re going to be held accountable.”

Those in attendance chanted Charley’s name, as well as “No justice, no peace.”

The family’s pastor, Janice Roseburgh, said Charley did not deserve to die.

“We’re calling for justice,” she said. “We shall get justice. This shall end.”

A funeral for Charley is set for Wednesday.


Ashley Miller

Ashley Miller

Ashley Miller is an aspiring investigative reporter from Lancaster, South Carolina. Miller worked for Fusion Magazine as a photojournalist in Kent, Ohio, during her freshman year and continues to assist the publication remotely. Miller wants to eventually write for a daily publication. Check out her portfolio at to see clips and learn more.

Caroline Williamson

Caroline Williamson

Caroline Williamson is an aspiring business journalist and native of Columbia, South Carolina. She was a former editor for the Garnet and Black Magazine and acquisitions intern for UofSC Press where she developed a passion for editing. Williamson enjoys writing narrative pieces that share unique perspectives and bring justice to those without a voice. She hopes to bring those skills and passion to a regional newspaper or magazine after graduation in May.