Bobby Canipe of Lincolnton, N.C., was stopped by Officer Terrence Knox for an expired license registration tag at about 7:30 p.m. on Tuesday in the rural town of Clover, S.C.
After exiting his pickup, according to WCNC Canipe reached for his cane from the bed of the truck.
Mistaking the cane for a weapon, Knox proceeded to fire his pistol at the senior citizen multiple times, striking him once in the stomach area.
Canipe was brought to Carolinas Medical Center in Charlotte, N.C., where he had surgery the next day. He’s expected to survive, CMC says.
Knox, 24, is now on paid leave of absence while South Carolina’s Law Enforcement Division investigates the incident, but not due to suspicion of wrongdoing. Both leave and investigation are standard procedure following a shooting, according the sheriff’s office.
Local police are defending the officer. According to York County Sheriff’s Office spokesperson Trent Faris:
“It does appear at this time that Deputy Knox’s actions were an appropriate response to what he believed to be an imminent threat to this life.”
Friends of Canipe told WSOC-TV that he is a disabled Vietnam War veteran, and uses the cane to aid independent mobility.
According to former FBI agent Jim Fisher, police departments do not keep detailed records of officers’ use of weapons. In his own research, Fisher says he found police in the United States to have shot 1,146 people in 2011, taking 607 lives.