The graphic video above shows police officer Michael Slager from North Charleston, South Carolina shooting and killing an unarmed man, Walter Scott, during a traffic stop for a broken tail light. The New York Times and South Carolina’s Charleston Post and Courier released the footage taken this weekend by a bystander who reacts audibly to the shooting.
In contrast, Slager, claimed in his report of the incident that he feared for his life because his Taser jogged loose in scuffle with Scott.
“Slager told other officers through his radio that he had gotten into a foot chase, according to the report. The police have not given details about the confrontation that followed behind the Mega Pawn shop at 5654 Rivers Ave.
“But with other officers on the way to help, Slager announced on his radio that he had ‘deployed’ his Taser, according to the report. But it didn’t work.
“The statement from Slager’s attorney, though, did not say that Slager actually fired the device. Aylor said he could not offer further clarification until the officer talks with investigators.
“‘When confronted, Officer Slager reached for his Taser — as trained by the department — and then a struggle ensued,’ Aylor said. ‘The driver tried to overpower Officer Slager in an effort to take his Taser.'”
The shaky phone video makes it hard to tell what exactly that happened in the sequence. But what happens at the end of the struggle is clear.
“The officer, Michael T. Slager, had said he feared for his life because the man took his stun gun in a scuffle after a traffic stop on Saturday. A video, however, shows the officer firing eight times as the man fled. The state charges were announced in a news conference Tuesday evening.”
According to reports, the officer’s version of what happened after the shooting appears to differ from what’s depicted in the video.
“Police reports say that officers performed CPR and delivered first aid to Mr. Scott. The video shows that for several minutes after the shooting, Mr. Scott remained face down with his hands cuffed behind his back. A second officer arrives, puts on blue medical gloves and attends to Mr. Scott, but is not shown performing CPR. As sirens wail in the background, a third officer arrives later, apparently with a medical kit, but also not seen performing CPR.”
News outlets have already aired Scott’s record, which includes delinquent child support payments. The Charleston Post and Courier alleges he may have been fleeing because of a bench warrant for the overdue money.
“Mr. Scott had been arrested about 10 times, mostly for failing to pay child support or show up for court hearings, according to the Post and Courier, the local newspaper. He was arrested in 1987 on an assault and battery charge, and convicted in 1991 of possession of a bludgeon, the newspaper reported. Mr. Scott’s brother, Anthony, said he believed Mr. Scott fled from police on Saturday because he owed child support.
“‘He has four children; he doesn’t have some type of big violent past or arrest record. He had a job, he was engaged,’ said Chris Stewart, a lawyer for Mr. Scott’s family. ‘He had back child support and didn’t want to go to jail for back child support.'”
North Charleston’s Mayor Keith Summey announced the state charges against the officer at the press conference. “When you’re wrong, you’re wrong,” Summey said. “When you make a bad decision, don’t care if you’re behind the shield or a citizen on the street, you have to live with that decision.”
Details are developing but the release of this video is sure to stoke controversy and conversation in light of the national attitude toward police violence caught on camera.