A prosecutor says the 2011 fatal shooting of an unarmed black man by a white police chief in rural South Carolina was a senseless act of violence.

Solicitor David Pascoe said in opening arguments Wednesday that Bernard Bailey was murdered over a broken taillight by then-Eutawville Police Chief Richard Combs.

But Combs' lawyer John O'Leary says the chief had a legitimate warrant against Bailey, and the victim turned his pickup truck into a weapon when he tried to back away as Combs tried to arrest him.

Authorities say Combs was trying to arrest Bailey on an obstruction of justice charge a few days after the chief issued a broken taillight ticket to Bailey's daughter.

The former chief faces from 30 years to life in prison if convicted of murder.