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Expert: S.C. trooper 'steered into suspect'

Related article:
S.C. jury sees video of suspect hit by trooper

By Jim Davenport
The Associated Press

GREENVILLE, S.C. — Federal prosecutors wrapped up their case Wednesday against a South Carolina state trooper accused of deliberately running down a suspect with his cruiser with a frame-by-frame analysis of a key video of the incident.

A witness for the prosecution said Lance Cpl. Steven Garren steered his patrol car twice into the path of suspect Marvin Grant. Crash reconstruction expert Geoffrey Germane said when Grant suddenly cut to the right in front of the cruiser, Garren steered the car toward the suspect a second time, which "caused the pedestrian to remain in the path" of the cruiser.

Garren's attorneys argued there were assumptions and flaws in the Germane's report and have said the trooper tried to avoid hitting Grant, even though the officer apparently bragged about the crash. On the video, Garren says to a deputy: "Yeah, I hit him. I was trying to hit him."

The defense will present its case to the jury Wednesday afternoon, and is expected to focus on whether the trooper had enough time to react to Grant's sudden turn.

Garren is charged with using unreasonable force and depriving a suspect of his civil rights. Garren is white; Grant is black. A conviction could bring up to 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.

Garren's trial is the first of two federal civil rights cases to come from a spate of police videos that showed questionable tactics by South Carolina troopers. The videos and how supervisors treated the officers on them brought the ousters of the heads of the Highway Patrol and Department of Public Safety earlier this year.

Garren was initially suspended for three days. He has been suspended since his federal indictment in June.

The videos have drawn scrutiny from the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People and the state's Legislative Black Caucus, which helped bring the videos to the public's attention.

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