Solicitor: Police were justified in killing of Loris man

By DEUCE NIVEN

tribdeuce@tabor-loris.com

     Myrtle Beach Police Department officers were justified in shooting and killing a Loris man who pointed an assault rifled towards them last October, State Law Enforcement Division investigators have been told by the 15th Circuit Solicitor’s office.

     Matthew Graham, 32, died following the Oct. 12, 2019, incident involving Myrtle Beach Police near 65th Avenue North and Timberline Street.

     MBPD officers Daniel Preciado and Thad Morgan, confronted by Graham after he crashed a bicycle into a ditch, fired the shots

     That determination, that police were justified, was outlined in a Dec. 18 letter from Chief Deputy Solicitor Scott Hixson to SLED Special Agent Ashley Soucy, released by the solicitor’s office Friday.

     Responding to SLED’s investigative report on the death of Graham, Hixson wrote “based on the information you uncovered in your extensive investigation, there is no evidence of criminal wrongdoing on behalf of the above named officers in this unfortunate loss of life.”

     Key investigative findings, outlined in Hixson’s letter, include:

  • That Graham was wanted by police on warrants charging him with discharging a weapon in the city limits.
  • That Graham was a suspect in several area burglaries.
  • That MBPD officers were investigating a burglary call that involved the theft of an AR-15 style assault rifle and a white bicycle.
  • That police spotted Graham after 11 p.m. on Oct. 11, 2019 in the 6500 block of North Kings Hwy “carrying a rifle wrapped in some clothing,” and chased Graham on foot to a local home, where Graham hid in a fenced in back yard.
  • That Graham eventually climbed over the fence, unseen by police until officers heard a gunshot “coming from the direction of Highway 17 Bypass.
  • That police found Graham riding a white bicycle towards 65th Avenue North, carrying what proved to be the stolen assault rifle, and again pursued Graham on foot.
  • That Graham “crashed the bicycle on a raised curb, fell off and landed in a shallow brushy ditch beside the street.”
  • That Graham recovered from the call, “rolled back towards the street and grabbed the rifle, pointing the muzzle of the weapon at the officers.”
  • That police ordered Graham “to drop the gun several times then fired on the subject. These actions are captured and corroborated through video evidence of the incident.”

     Look for more on this story in the next Tabor-Loris Tribune in print and online.