Mayoral Candidate Won't Face Charges In Convenience Store Shooting

Tuesday, October 16th 2007, 10:08 am
By: News On 6

CHARLESTON, S.C. (AP) _ A mayoral candidate who is also a police officer shot a man in the back during a convenience store argument _ but was only defending himself, a prosecutor said.

Prosecutor Scarlett Wilson said Monday she will not file criminal charges against Omar Brown, a member of the Charleston Police Department and one of three candidates challenging Mayor Joseph P. Riley Jr. in next month's election.

Surveillance camera footage released Monday shows Brown and Antonio Jerome Rivers arguing in the store before the Oct. 1 shootout. In the video, Brown reaches around Rivers at the checkout to grab a drink he purchased, apparently bumping him. Rivers appears to become agitated and Brown leaves the store.

The video later shows Brown getting out of his car and firing several shots at Rivers, who was walking toward Brown's car. Witnesses told police Rivers approached Brown's car with a gun.

``A person does not have to wait until a shot is fired if they reasonably believe they are being attacked,'' Wilson said.

Rivers' attorney, Brian Burke, said a grand jury should decide whether Brown is charged. He said his client was shot several times in the back as he tried to get away.

Rivers was treated at a hospital after the shooting and then released and sent to jail later the same day, charged with assault and battery with intent to kill, and possession of a firearm during the commission of a violent crime, Burke said. He was being held without bail.

Brown went to the hospital with a gunshot wound to the leg. Wilson said the mayoral candidate fired a personal weapon during the argument, and the bullet that hit his leg came from a different gun.

Brown was on annual leave from the police department at the time of the shooting.