Still no explanation why officer shot himself

Sgt. Bullard (File/WCIV)

By Eric Egan

NORTH CHARLESTON, SC (WCIV) -- A North Charleston officer is still suspended after he shot himself and made up a story saying he was attacked.

The department says the officer was facing mental issues.

In the meantime, the investigation continues into why the officer shot himself and why he blamed it on someone else.

The morning of July 4, Sergeant Eddie Bullard was found shot lying on the ground near a carpet store on Rivers Avenue. The 15-year veteran of the department said two unknown men were the ones responsible, one of them struggled with Bullard and fired the shot that hit him in his vest. Two days later, North Charleston Chief Jon Zumalt, was limited on details, but said that story was a lie.

"I became worried it didn't happen as the officer reported it," Zumalt said. "He came in and we talked to him, we learned it didn't happen."

Zumalt has not said why Bullard lied, or as it's been learned since, why Bullard shot himself. The sergeant was put on leave with no pay, though Zumalt said his concern was getting Bullard help.

"We are worried about his psychological well being. He's very troubled, otherwise nobody would do something like this," Zumalt said.

In Friday's press conference, Zumalt said Bullard was having trouble at home, and he wanted to get him stable. Bullard underwent psychiatric evaluation shortly after.

Clinical psychologist, Dr. Jennifer White-Baughan Ph.D. did not examine Bullard, but says depending on the stress he experienced, it may provide some explanation.

"I cannot comment on the particulars of this situation, but in cases such as this when people have been in high stress jobs for a long time and then have family stressors, their coping skills may be overwhelmed," White-Baughan said. "Any of us may act in unpredictable ways if pushed to the limit of our endurance."

White-Baughun stressed her opinion could only be based on theory since Bullard's current condition has not been released.

At the same time, others have weighed in on how the department should handle the situation moving forward.

"He should get a mental evaluation and see if maybe some of the rigors and stress of the job contributed to that," said Steven Jones.

"It sounds to me like he needs some health treatment first and then his career can be discussed after," Amyleigh Pellegrino said.

The department has also not made clear whether Bullard intentionally shot himself or if it was by accident. Sergeant Bullard could still face criminal charges for the incident.

Chief Jon Zumalt declined to be interviewed for this report.