Chief: Officer shot himself, made up story about incident

Sgt. Bullard (File/WCIV)

NORTH CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCIV) -- Police Chief Jon Zumalt said he was tired of chasing ghosts.

The North Charleston police chief called an emergency press conference Friday evening in regards to an officer shooting that he said had frustrated his agency and others that responded.

"We started getting uneasy about the facts of the case," Chief Zumalt said. "...Today I became worried that it didn't happen."

Zumalt said the officer, Sgt. Eddie Bullard, wasn't attacked and that he shot himself. Zumalt said he got the truth out of Bullard Friday.

"There wasn't any evidence of a struggle. We just couldn't find zero evidence. Nobody's calling us. We usually get tips. There's just nothing. It was like a dead zone. I couldn't allow my workforce to continue to hunt for ghosts," he said.

Bullard has been suspended without pay and his status with the North Charleston Police Department is pending an investigation.

Around 5 a.m. July 4th Bullard radioed he'd been shot. He said he was responding to a suspect that would not acknowledge him on Rivers Avenue near the Carpet Wholesalers business. According to an incident report, the shooting followed a struggle for his firearm with a person that grabbed him from behind. The original suspect, he said, ran away. Bullard said he began to lose grip on his weapon and was able to drop his magazine out of the firearm before he was shot. Bullard's description of the suspects was vague.

On Thursday, officials said they believed Bullard may have been shot with his own gun.

Zumalt said he is puzzled as to why the 15-year veteran would have made up the story.

Bullard was released from MUSC Thursday. He was shot in the lower portion of his bullet resistant vest and was held at MUSC over night for observation.

Zumalt said charges against Bullard are a possibility. SLED is investigating and they would be the agency to bring such charges.{}

Zumalt said his agency is worried about Bullard's mental health, and that they will be looking at providing him counseling.{} Zumalt hinted that issues at home may be contributing to his mental condition.

"He's very troubled," Zumalt said. "Otherwise, nobody would do something like this."{}

Zumalt said he wants the community to know that when the North Charleston Police Department gets wind of an internal problem, it is taken seriously.

"We vet it out ourselves," he said.

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