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Columbia Police Department disputes nightclub management’s version of fatal shooting aftermath


The Columbia Police Department responded Monday to allegations of maltreatment made by the management of a Columbia nightclub after a deadly shooting.

Police Chief Geoff Jones and CPD Sgt. Clinton Sinclair addressed the investigation after a shooting at Vibez Lounge killed Tershawn Kitchen, 34, of Columbia and injured a woman early Feb. 2.

Curtis Lewis, 36, faces several charges including voluntary manslaughter in the case. He allegedly told officers he was punched directly before the shooting.

The video CPD released shows the shooting happened at 2:34 a.m. Feb. 2. Sinclair said officers arrived at the scene 20 seconds after shots were heard. Police say officers encountered Lewis and Kitchen, then began assessing Kitchen.

Sinclair said officers moved Kitchen out of the doorway where he had been shot and immediately gave him first aid. Sinclair said officers were with Kitchen until Columbia firefighters arrived.

Police say Lewis admitted to the shooting and handed officers his gun within 27 seconds of the shooting. Sinclair said officers learned about the woman who had been shot seconds after officers arrived at the nightclub.

The timeline of events from a CPD community briefing shows officers responded to Vibez Lounge within minutes after shots were allegedly fired. Courtesy Columbia Police Department

Multiple officers were in the area directly before the deadly incident, police say. In the community briefing, Sinclair says seven police vehicles were on Fifth Street within a minute of the shooting. He said three officers got out of their vehicles and ran to Vibez after hearing gunshots.

An image from a CPD community briefing shows where Columbia police vehicles were located before a deadly shooting happened outside Vibez Lounge on Feb. 2. Columbia Police Department

Vibez posted on its website on Feb. 6 that officers were unprofessional and aggressive after the shooting. According to the post, Vibez staff members were treating Kitchen and police told them to stop. The post says police treated Kitchen "like he was already gone." The post alleged CPD did not give Kitchen immediate medical attention and left him on the street outside the nightclub.

Vibez staff claimed officers threatened to arrest workers if they didn't leave during a search of the club and claimed police did not present a search warrant. Sinclair in the video acknowledged police made people leave the club, which he said is standard practice. Police had a warrant, Sinclair said.

The Vibez post claims staff discovered the next morning that CPD had wrecked the nightclub.

According to the community briefing from CPD, officers did not damage any property but had to force their way into a bathroom. Sinclair said officers had moved some furniture that had not been put back.

CPD said investigators took several items from the nightclub during the search. Sinclair said the prosecuting attorney allowed officers on Feb. 5 to release evidence taken the night of the shooting. The items were picked up on Feb. 7, Sinclair said.

A Vibez spokesman told ABC 17 News that the business had no comment on the CPD video.

Columbia / Columbia Video / Homicide / News / Shooting / Top Stories / Video

Sydney Olsen

Sydney Olsen reports in the evenings during the week and on the weekend.

Matt Ragsdale

Matt Ragsdale is a broadcast and digital producer at ABC 17 News.


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