A judge in South Carolina set a $150,000 bond Thursday for a small-town police officer charged with voluntary manslaughter in the shooting death of a man who investigators said led her on a high-speed chase after running through a stop sign.
Hemingway police officer Cassandra Dollard, 52, was released from jail less than two hours after the bond hearing.
During a news conference on Wednesday family attorney Bakari Sellers, a former South Carolina state lawmaker said the family believes a "crime was committed in his killing."
Sellers said that investigators showed the family dashboard camera footage of the shooting.
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"They were able to hear him being shot unjustifiably. They were able to see him gargling blood and fighting for air," family attorney Bakari Sellers, a former South Carolina state lawmaker, said at a news conference on Wednesday.
Dollard was on patrol in her town of 530 people early Sunday when she saw Robert Junior Langley fail to stop at a stop sign early Sunday, investigators said.
Dollard turned on her blue lights and Langley appeared to slow briefly, then sped away from the stop, Solicitor Jimmy Richardson said at Thursday's bond hearing.
Dollard chased Langley for 9 miles (14 kilometers) in a chase that reached a top speed of 127 mph (204 kph), Richardson said.
Langley missed a turn, crashed into a ditch and was trying to get out of the passenger side of his car when Dollard shot him, Richardson said.
“She had seen the look in his eyes and she thought she was in trouble and that’s why she felt the necessity to fire a fatal shot," Richardson said.
Dollard told investigators she feared for her life, but also that she never confirmed he had a weapon. No weapon was found at the shooting scene, according to an arrest warrant.
Dollard only answered questions from the judge during the hearing. Her lawyer said she has little money and asked for a reasonable bond.
"Cassandra is very sorry for what happened on Sunday morning and she grieves with the Langley family," defense attorney Rose Mary Parham said.
Dollard faces two to 30 years in prison if she is convicted.
Langley's mother told the judge her son, who was a father of 10 and worked at a chicken processing plant, meant the world to her.
“I love my son with all my heart. And when they called and told me that he was killed, unjustifiably, it killed me and his family,” Roslynn Langley said, wiping tears from her eyes.
Dollard has been a police officer in South Carolina for all but one year since 1994, according to South Carolina Criminal Justice Academy records.
She has worked for six agencies and been fired twice. She was chief of the Johnsonville police department, population 1,400, before she was fired in 2002 for “poor performance.” No other details were provided in the paperwork.
Dollard was also interim chief at the Lake City Police Department before leaving in March 2006 to work for the State Transport Police. That agency fired her in 2014 for violating rules, regulations or policies, according to the records, which didn’t provide specifics.
Dollard started working in Hemingway in September. The town has not responded to phone messages asking if she is still employed and other details.
Attorneys for Langley's family said they hope not only that Dollard is held responsible for killing him, but also his death leads to an examination on how officers are trained and evaluated. Dollard is African American, as was Langley.
“Those gunshots Sunday stole him away from his family and, from the officer who fired the shots to the system that put the gun in her hand, someone has to answer for that,” said state Sen. Gerald Malloy, a lawyer and Democrat from Hartsville.
Follow Jeffrey Collins on Twitter at https://twitter.com/JSCollinsAP.