CLOVER, S.C. — Prosecutors will not file criminal charges against the York County sheriff’s deputy who shot an unarmed 70-year-old man in the chest during a traffic stop in February, saying the shooting was an accident and the deputy had no criminal intent.
Bobby Canipe was reaching for his walking cane — which Deputy Terrance Knox believed to be a weapon — when he was shot several times on Feb. 25.
Canipe, who lives in Lincolnton, N.C., survived the shooting. He was shot when he got out of his pickup after Knox pulled him over on U.S. 321 north of Clover.
Knox, 24, a deputy for about three years, told investigators that when Canipe got out of the truck, he grabbed something long out of the bed of the pickup, which Knox believed to be a long gun. Knox yelled at Canipe to stop and then fired.
Knox’s actions did not rise to the level of criminal intent, said 16th Circuit Solicitor Kevin Brackett, who made the decision not to file charges. The shooting was “without question accidental,” he said, and while “tragic,” it was not a criminal act.
“The deputy was acting under the impression that his life was in imminent danger,” Brackett said.
The incident was captured on Knox’s police car dashcam video. It lasted less than four seconds. Knox can be heard and seen on the video yelling to Canipe. The “long object” that turned out to be a cane “clearly” was pointed at Knox, Brackett said.
On the video, Knox can be heard weeping and begging God to forgive him after he fired about six shots at Canipe.
Brackett cited that expression of “sincere remorse” and “overwhelming grief” in a letter he sent to State Law Enforcement Division investigators.
“This was a tragic event and is painful for all involved,” Brackett said.
In his letter to SLED, Brackett advised investigators that no charges would be filed. Brackett also met Thursday with Canipe and some of his family to tell them personally that no charges would be filed.
Efforts to reach Knox through the sheriff’s office were unsuccessful Thursday.
Efforts to reach Canipe and his family for comment also were unsuccessful. Immediately after the incident, members of his family declined to comment, saying they were waiting to talk to a lawyer. State and federal court records do not show any civil legal action taken by Canipe concerning the incident.
Knox has been back on the job for several weeks after initially being placed on administrative leave while SLED investigated.
Sheriff Bruce Bryant said Thursday his office has stood by Knox from the beginning.
“Any other officer in the exact circumstances would have acted in the same manner as Deputy Knox responded,” he said.
Bryant said he was glad this “unfortunate incident” had been put to rest by the solicitor.