Officer Charged with Murder Bonds Out of Jail - WTOC-TV: Savannah, Beaufort, SC, News, Weather & Sports

06/01/07

Officer Charged with Murder Bonds Out of Jail

Antonio Taharka, the Savannah-Chatham police officer charged with felony murder, faced a judge this morning. Judge Louisa Abbot set his bond at $25,000.

Taharka bonded out of jail just before 1:30pm Friday. He will be allowed to await trial on the outside, though he's not allowed to have a firearm.

He's on administrative leave from the police department.

Taharka, 33, is an eight-year veteran of the police force. Wednesday afternoon, Taharka opened fire on 41-year-old Anthony Smashum as he ran from police.

According to police reports, Taharka says he thought Smashum had a weapon, but an investigation revealed Smashum was not armed.

Smashum died from his injuries.

Police chief Michael Berkow says the department still has a job to do, and, despite this tragedy, he told reporters at a news conference Thursday, "This is not going to distract us from that primary mission, that goal," of fighting crime.

Officer Taharka is a Savannah native, a patrol officer assigned to the Central District. Four years ago he was in a similar situation, when he stopped a man for driving with an expired tag. The man ran and tried to jump a fence, Taharka says, with a dark object in his hand.

Taharka shot at him, but missed. The department's investigation cleared Taharka of any wrongdoing in that case.

Anthony Smashum was also a Savannah native, and no stranger to the legal system. In the last decade, he'd spent time in prison on aggravated battery and rape convictions. He just got out in September.

Police were trying to serve Smashum a warrant for probation violation when the shooting occurred.

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