A former member of South Carolina law enforcement who killed an unarmed motorist in 2014 learned Wednesday that he will face trial on serious criminal charges. Justin Craven, who worked as a public safety officer in the city of North Augusta, has been indicted by a grand jury for felony discharging of a firearm into an occupied vehicle.
Craven, 25, was previously indicted last August for misdemeanor official misconduct in office, although prosecutors originally sought manslaughter charges. He fired multiple shots into a parked vehicle driven by Ernst Satterwhite, an unarmed, black 68-year-old great-grandfather, after a February 10 slow-speed chase that ended in the motorist's own driveway. Craven has claimed that Satterwhite reached for his gun before he fired repeatedly into his driver-side door, although attorneys have denied there was a struggle for the officer's firearm.
The jurors found there was enough evidence to move forward with the newest felony charge, according to a report by News 12 WRDW-TV, in nearby Augusta, Georgia. Craven, who eventually left the force after the shooting, was expected to make his first appearance in court Thursday. If convicted, Craven could serve up to 10 years in prison and pay a fine of $1,000, according to state authorities.
— WRDW-TV News 12 (@WRDW) May 21, 2015
Craven's indictment follows the high-profile murder charges against North Charleston, South Carolina officer Michael Slager in the death of Walter Scott, a 50-year-old unarmed African-American in April. In contrast to the case involving Craven, Scott's death resulted in swift criminal charges against Slager and contributed to a national protest and a debate around the use of lethal force by police against unarmed black men.
Craven was arrested on the same day that Slager was charged with murder in Scott's shooting, according to a Huffington Post report. Satterwhite had previously been arrested for traffic violations and driving under the influence, but he did not have a history of violent offenses. In March, an attorney for Satterwhite's family said the city of North Augusta had agreed to a $1 million settlement, the Associated Press reported.