Deputies fatally shot a double-murder suspect who was holding a chrome shower head

COLUMBIA, S.C. — A man who beat his mother and girlfriend to death in a burning house and who reportedly told relatives he wanted to be killed by police was fatally shot by eight officers while holding a chrome shower head that they believed was a gun , said a police officer. department presenting evidence in the case.

Gary Pratt Whitten was out on bail — wearing an ankle monitor and ordered to stay away from his girlfriend’s home after pointing a gun at her in December — when he killed the women on Jan. 17, investigators told the newspaper The Post and Courier.

Data from the monitor indicated that Whitten was at the Greenville home for several hours on the day of the murder, but the company that maintains the ankle bracelet did not contact the sheriff’s office until Whitten removed it. The fire was reported 30 seconds later, authorities said.

Whitten’s family had called 911 in September and said he wanted to be killed by officers, according to a briefing video released Saturday by Greenville County sheriff’s Lt. Ryan Flood.

The video contains clips of body camera footage showing 36-year-old Whitten stepping onto the porch of a mobile home. Flood, who narrates the video, said officers saw a chrome object in his hand. One deputy shouted “he has a gun” and in about five seconds, dozens of shots were fired by the eight officers. The video includes a photo of the removable chrome shower head.

Officers had traced Whitten to the mobile home using a license plate reader and other investigative techniques after finding the bodies of Whitten’s 55-year-old girlfriend Anissa Henderson and 56-year-old mother Kelli Kaughman Whitten. Both women had been struck and killed with a sharp object in the home that was found burning hours earlier, investigators said.

Officers said they spent 26 minutes trying to peacefully surrender him before the shooting.

Internal investigators cleared the eight deputies of violating sheriff’s policy, Greenville County Sheriff Hobart Lewis said. A state investigation that prosecutors will use to determine whether the shooting was justified continues.

The nine-minute police presentation includes about three minutes of audio from September, when a 911 caller asked emergency responders to check on Whitten, warning that “his mental state is not good” and “he would do something to protect himself under the law.” being killed.”

The Greenville County Sheriff’s Office has a policy of releasing select body camera footage, 911 calls, police radio traffic or other evidence 45 days after an officer-involved shooting. It is one of the few agencies in the state to release such information. Most are waiting until the investigation is complete and prosecutors decide whether the shooting was justified.