North Charleston police officer, Michael T. Slager, has been fired and charged with murder after a video surfaced showing him shooting an unarmed black man attempting to flee a routine traffic stop.
Walter Scott, 50, Coast Guard veteran and father of four, died after being shot eight times while running from Patrolman Slager, who had pulled him over for broken brake light.
The footage, taken by an anonymous bystander, shows Slager reaching to grab Scott as he runs away, then drawing his gun and firing at Scott from about ten feet away. Scott falls to the ground as the last shot rings out. “I was sickened by what I saw,” North Charleston police Chief Eddie Driggers told reporters in response to the video.
The officer is heard saying “Put your hands behind your back,” he handcuffs Scott, then runs back and picks a black object up off the ground, which he later drops next to the body. “He planted a taser on him,” said Arianna Weber, business major and junior at the College, after watching the video, “he didn’t even try CPR.” Slager’s partner arrives and they check his wounds under his shirt, but make no attempt to revive him. The last few seconds show Slager checking Scott’s pulse as they wait for paramedics to arrive. Scott was declared dead on the scene. “He was running away. You don’t just shoot someone for running away,” said Karola Richardson, a senior theatre major at the College.
In the police radio transmissions released Wednesday, an out-of-breath Slager reports, “Shots fired. Subject is down. He grabbed my taser.” Slater tells dispatch the wounds are in Scott’s chest, thigh and buttocks, although Scott’s family’s attorney reported Scott was hit four times in the back, twice fatally.
The incident provoked outrage in the community and on social media. Wednesday morning a crowd gathered outside City Hall chanting with signs reading “Black lives matter,” and “Back turned, don’t shoot.” The protest echoed the rallies held in Ferguson, Mo. after the fatal shooting of unarmed Michael Brown by a white police officer. Unlike Brown’s case, retribution was swift for Slager. He is now sitting in a cell, a date has yet to be set for his hearing. He faces a murder charge.
Mayor Summey of North Charleston announced that all officers will soon be required to wear body cameras. In addition to the 101 cameras the department already has, 150 have been ordered. “We simply can’t rely on citizens with video cameras to make sure justice is served,” said a statement from the Rev. Al Sharpton.
The FBI has announced it will be working with South Carolina Law Enforcement Division and the state attorney general to investigate any civil rights violations in Scott’s death.
A clip of the video capturing the shooting.