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Police exploring possibility of fatal West Side shooting being a case of suicide by police

Charleston police are exploring the possibility that a deadly officer-involved shooting Thursday was a case of suicide by police. (WCHS/WVAH)

Charleston police are exploring the possibility that a deadly officer-involved shooting Thursday was a case of suicide by police.

Thursday evening, Dunbar and South Charleston police chased Charleston burglary suspect Rodney Toler into Charleston where he crashed on a dead-end street on the city’s West Side.

Witnesses and police said he got out of the car and immediately began shooting at South Charleston police, who returned fire, killing him.

Based on some past events and comments made by Toler to others, there are some strong indications this may have been a suicide by police.

“There has been a pattern on the part of Mr. Toler in recent months in dealing with law enforcement. In November, he actually rammed a police cruiser that was simply patrolling the West Side of Charleston,” Charleston Police Chief Steve Cooper said.

During that 2017 incident, Toler asked officers to shoot him.

Where the incident happened is not a quiet neighborhood, but no one was expecting Thursday’s daytime violence.

“Usually my little girl would be playing out here, but I’m glad she was at my mother’s and then all of this police presence, high-speed chase, it was crazy to see all that,” Michelle Harmon said.

“There seems to be a paradigm shift in our society. I can’t recall a more dangerous time to be a police officer,” Cooper said.

Charleston police are investigating the shooting, but it is unclear if it will be determined if this was just a reckless attempt to get away or something else.

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