Columbia, SC (WLTX) – The man shot by a former South Carolina trooper said he is not pleased with the sentence.
“I don’t think there’s a number they could’ve said that was going to please me,” LeVar Jones said of the sentence given to the man that shot him.
Jones wanted Sean Groubert to get the maximum sentence of 20 years.
Previous Coverage: Ex-SC Officer Sentence for Shooting Man, Tells Him I Screwed Up
“I watched so many people from my community go through the judicial process and are always held to these max sentences,” he explained. “For the shoe to be on the other foot, the officer was very clear that he was up for this max situation so I wanted to definitely to stay by that, let him know that we were going for max."
Groubert shot Jones on September 4, 2014 outside a Circle K gas station on Broad River Road in Columbia. The then trooper said he stopped Jones for a seat belt violation. He plead guilty last year to a charge of assault and battery of a high and aggravated nature.
Groubert was sentenced Tuesday to 12 years, suspended upon service of five years, and three years probation with credit for time served. In short, Groubert will serve five years, but get credit for the 17 months he's already spent behind bars.
Sean Groubert apologized to Jones during the sentencing.
"I screwed up, plain and simple," Groubert told Jones directly in court. "I pray that one day you'll be able to find peace with this and forgive me."
"You did absolutely nothing wrong," Groubert said. "You did nothing to warrant the force that was used against you."
Groubert even told Jones how he had been praying for him.
Jones said this was the first time anyone had said sorry for what had happened. However, he said he was numb listening to the apology.
“I don’t know what I’m supposed to think of the apology. The character’s kind of shaky at this point but I can say this much, I’m Christian, so in order to forgive him, I had to feel a certain type of way in the beginning,” Jones said.
“I’ve never felt any type of way to forgive,” Jones explained. “I would have to have malice in my heart or feel bad in order to go and forgive someone.”
Jones said he has not been the same since the shooting. He said it is hard for him to get a job and it it has taken some time for him to heal spiritually, emotionally and mentally.
“I always notice when law enforcement, different people are around me, I keep my eyes open for that now, not in a thing like I always think they’re going to harm me, but I guess it’s one of those things that comes with PTSD,” he said. “You’re always looking over your shoulder. You’re always looking twice.”
Although Jones is not pleased with the apology or the amount of time Groubert will serve, he is pleased that the state took action.
“I do feel like South Carolina did something where the rest of the country has done nothing,” Jones said.
Jones said he wants to move forward by helping others with similar situations get justice and ensuring his community is voting for politicians that will really help address serious issues.
“First off this is the beginning of healing and then after that, it’s going to be the beginning of change in the community so we’re going to start this change at this ground floor,” Jones said. "I like to say that South Carolina has now officially laid out the blueprint to the house.”
Jones also said he hopes that this case helps people to drop their preconceived notions about people who are different from them.
“Don’t paint a picture of an animal to put people in cages,” Jones said. “This picture that has been painted and portrayed through movies, music, video, all this kind of stuff, a lot of the times that doesn’t portray every person that’s out there. You know I can look at a guy with a low haircut and blue eyes and automatically put him in a category if that was the case, you know? So that’s not it, it’s a lot bigger than that.”
For more on Jones’ movement, you can connect with him here: https://www.facebook.com/levar.jones.71