Michael Slager, a White police officer in South Carolina has been charged with murder after video surfaced of him shooting and killing an unarmed man who was running away.
According to CNN, Slager, of the North Charleston Police Department, was arrested Tuesday for shooting and killing 50-year-old Walter Scott on Saturday. If found guilty he could face up to life in prison or death.
The interaction between Slager and Scott began when the officer stopped Scott for driving with a brake light being out. Police say Slager and Scott were outside of the car, with Slager’s gun drawn, because Scott tried to grab his stun gun.
The latter part of the altercation was caught on video. In it, we see a Black man, Scott, break away from Slager. Something falls and the officer fires eight shots as Scott, who appears to be unarmed, drops to the ground. The same video shows Slager picking up the object that fell to the ground and dropping it near Mr. Scott’s body.
Instead of turning this video over to the police, the Scott family attorney sent it to the New York Times.
North Charleston mayor, Keith Summey told reporters earlier today during a press conference that “as the result of that video and the bad decision made by our officer, he will be charged with murder. When you’re wrong, you’re wrong. And if you make a bad decision–don’t care if you’re behind the shield or just a citizen on the street–you have to live by that decision.”
Walter Scott has been described by his family as a good man who was about to get married. Anthony Scott, Walter’s brother told a CNN affiliate that the family was willing to go to any length to ensure that his brother can rest in peace.
Anthony also told The New York Times that his brother was not a violent man and he probably ran because he owed child support and had been arrested 10 times for failing to pay it.
“He has four children; he doesn’t have some type of big violent past or arrest record. He had a job; he was engaged. He had back child support and didn’t want to go to jail for back child support.”
Slager said initially though his former attorney David Aylor that he followed appropriate policies and procedures.
The Justice Department, FBI and S.C. Law Enforcement Division are all reviewing the evidence of this case.
The New York Times reports that like Ferguson, North Charleston has a population of 100,000 African Americans, making up about 47 percent of the residents. Whites makes up 37 percent. Yet, the police department is 80 percent White, according to data collected in 2007, the most recent available.
The police report for the death said that officers performed CPR and delivered first aid to Mr. Scott. But the video shows that for several minutes after the shooting Mr. Scott laid face down with his hands cuffed behind his back. When the second officer arrived he put on blue medical gloves and attended to Mr. Scott but did not perform CPR. A third officer arrived with a medical kit but still did not perform CPR.
Mr. Scott is the 300th person killed by police this year, of 311 total. A person has been killed every day in the month of April.