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Web only Officer Involved Shooting

A man was killed early Thursday morning in a confrontation with Orangeburg County Sheriff’s Office deputies. The State Law Enforcement Division is investigating.

The man killed in Thursday morning’s officer-involved shooting incident was on probation for criminal domestic violence.

Benjamin Ray Smith, 54, of 513 Felderville Road, Elloree, died of a gunshot wound to the chest early Thursday morning, according to Orangeburg County Chief Deputy Coroner Sean Fogle.

Fogle said Smith’s death was ruled a homicide. That means the death was caused by another person, but does not mean it was unlawful.

The death is being investigated by the S.C. Law Enforcement Division.

The deputy who was involved is now on administrative leave, which is a standard practice in such investigations, according to sheriff’s office spokesman Richard Walker.

The sheriff’s office did not name the deputy.

“Information gathered in the SLED investigation of the incident will be summarized in a case file report to be submitted to prosecutors,” SLED spokesman Thom Berry said.

Berry noted there is no dashboard camera footage of the incident.

The shooting occurred after Orangeburg County Sheriff’s Office deputies responded to the Felderville Road address after a call for a domestic disturbance.

According to records on file with the S.C. Department of Probation, Parole and Pardon Services, Smith was on probation at the time of his death.

His supervised probation began on March 6, 2015 and was to end on March 5, 2020.

On March 12, 2014, Smith pleaded guilty to criminal domestic violence of a high and aggravated nature.

Circuit Judge Ed Dickson sentenced him to 10 years in prison, suspended to 18 months to five years of probation. He gave Smith credit for the time he served at the Orangeburg County Detention Center.

Just this past April, Smith pleaded guilty to second-degree criminal domestic violence.

Circuit Judge Diane Goodstein sentenced him to three years in prison, suspended to 90 days with three years of probation. She gave him credit for time served in jail.

Smith’s criminal history extends to 1987.

When he was 22, he received a robbery conviction and a judge sentenced him under the Youthful Offender Act not to exceed one to six years of confinement, according to a SLED background check.

In 1989, the Calhoun County Sheriff’s Office charged him with grand larceny.

He pleaded guilty to breach of trust. A judge sentenced him to five years in prison, suspended to three years of probation and 200 hours of public service employment.

In 1990, the Orangeburg County Sheriff’s Office arrested and charged him with probation violation.

A judge found Smith guilty of shoplifting during a bench trial in 1993.

Orangeburg County Magistrate Peggy Doremus sentenced him to 30 days in jail suspended upon the payment of a $249 fine.

In 2000, Smith pleaded guilty to one count of third-degree burglary.

Circuit Judge Jackson V. Gregory sentenced him to five years in prison, suspended to four years of probation and the successful completion of an inpatient drug treatment program.

In 2017, Orangeburg County Magistrate Willie Robinson found Smith guilty during a bench trial of unlawful use of a telephone. He sentenced him to 30 days in jail or payment of a fine.

Thursday’s incident was the 28th officer-involved shooting in South Carolina in 2019 and the first this year involving the Orangeburg County Sheriff’s Office.

In 2018, there were 43 officer-involved shootings in South Carolina. None involved the Orangeburg County Sheriff’s Office.

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Contact the writer: mbrown@timesanddemocrat.com or 803-533-5545. Follow on Twitter: @MRBrownTandD

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