Man paralyzed from deputy-involved shooting plans to file lawsuit

In early May, 26-year-old Bryant Heyward was shot at his home by a Charleston County Sheriff’s deputy. Tuesday, Heyward’s attorney announced that the start of 2016, he will be filing a civil suit to help pay for Heyward’s expensive medical bills. Attorney Justin Bamberg says Heyward called 911 looking for help, and says the very people expected to help him left him in a wheelchair for life.

During the 911 call, Heyward says, “It’s an emergency and they have guns, please come.”

The operator asks, “Someone is trying to break into your home?”

Heyward says, “Yes, and they have guns.”

Heyward tells the 911 dispatcher he was hiding in the laundry room at the back of the house while people broke into his Hollywood home. Heyward was armed and when deputies arrived, he stepped out onto the back steps. Deputies mistook him for one of the burglars, yelled for him to drop the weapon, and fired. A bulled lodged in Heyward’s neck is still there today, leaving him paralyzed from the chest down.

Heyward’s attorney, Justin Bamberg, says, “Bryant will never walk again. Bryant in all likelihood, even though he is only 26-years-old, will never have the opportunity  to have children of his own. When Ms. Inez is old, he will not be in a position to take care of her the way that she has, from day one, diligently taken care of him.”

Bamberg says a civil suit is coming because this could have been prevented with better communication between 911 operators and deputies.

Bamberg says, “At no point did the 911 dispatcher tell Bryant, whose mind would’ve been running a million times a minute, to put the gun down before you approach the door. At no point did 911 tell the officers the homeowner is there and he’s armed at the back door waiting for you.”

Bamberg says the lawsuit will be for an “indeterminate” amount of money, but adds it will be very expensive for Heyward to receive the medical supplies and care his condition requires.

Bamberg says, “Nothing can truly bring Bryant back to where he was before this happened, but financial compensation is the only way to ensure that Bryant can receive the care he needs for the remainder of his life.”

Statement from the Charleston County Sheriff’s Office:

We continue to contend that this remains a tragic event for us all. From the very beginning, we acknowledged what happened and the impact, to this day, that it is having on Mr. Heyward and his family. However, it is inappropriate and not the proper forum for someone to attempt to interpret another person’s perception of a tragic event such as this. We are talking about perception at the time that a split second decision was made. A key factor in this incident is that weapons were involved in a high risk call for service. With help from the community, we have been able to apprehend five suspects involved in this incident. “


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