A South Carolina deputy has lost his job and been charged with involuntary manslaughter, accused of shooting his wife to death Saturday night while off-duty.
Matthew Jordan Blakley, employed with the Aiken County Sheriff’s Office since November 2014, was still attending the police academy.
The incident took place at 7:30 p.m. and the local news report mentions that another Aiken County sheriff’s deputy is an “alleged witness,” but does not offer more details.
The couple were high school sweethearts and had been married since July 28, 2012. No details have been released surrounding the shooting, but it is currently being investigated by the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division (SLED).
A person commits involuntary manslaughter when he or she causes the death of another while engaged in criminally negligent conduct—conduct showing a reckless disregard for the safety of others. The conduct does not necessarily have to be illegal itself.
Involuntary manslaughter is still a serious crime punishable by up to five years in prison.
Blakley, a former Marine who had been stationed in Afghanistan, was taken into custody on Sunday and remains at the Aiken County Detention Center pending a bond hearing.
While there is no evidence at this point that the shooting is a result of domestic violence, the National Center for Women and Policing reports that domestic violence is two to four times more common among law enforcement families than American families in general. The organization points to two studies, indicating that as many as 40 percent of law enforcement families have a problem with domestic violence.
“Victims often fear calling the police, because they know the case will be handled by officers who are colleagues and/or friends of their abuser. Victims of police family violence typically fear that the responding officers will side with their abuser and fail to properly investigate or document the crime,” they point out in their police family violence fact sheet.
Diane Wetendorf, the author of Police Domestic Violence: Handbook for Victims, has created an entire website dedicated to helping victims of domestic violence from their law enforcement partners. On her website she outlines difficulties that partners of officers face when attempting to seek help.
- If your abuser is an officer of the law, you may be afraid to:
- Call the police — He is the police.
- Go to a shelter — He knows where the shelters are located.
- Have him arrested — Responding officers may invoke the code of silence.
- Take him to court — It’s your word against that of an officer, and he knows the system.
- Drop the charges — You could lose any future credibility and protection.
If you are a victim of domestic violence by a law enforcement officer, Wetendorf recommends that you contact your local domestic violence agency for support and information. You can also visit her website for links to many more resources and helpful information.