A North Charleston police officer was arrested on a murder charge after a video surfaced Tuesday of the lawman shooting eight times at a 50-year-old black man as the man ran away.
Walter L. Scott, a Coast Guard veteran and father of four, died Saturday after Patrolman 1st Class Michael T. Slager, 33, shot him in the back multiple times.
Five of the eight bullets Slager fired hit Scott, his family’s attorney said. Four of those struck his back. One hit an ear.
Slager defended his actions, saying that he feared for his life after Scott wrestled his Taser from him during a scuffle.
However, the footage shows Scott getting approximately 15 to 20 feet away before Slager opens fire with seven shots in quick succession followed by an eighth.
Slager then handcuffed Scott’s lifeless body and moved an object – possibly the Taser – from where it fell to the ground some 30ft away and planting it next to the victim.
The Post and Courier reported that the footage was filmed by a bystander, which The Post obtained from a source who asked to remain anonymous. The video shows the end of the confrontation between the two with Scott running from a traffic stop. It was the first piece of evidence contradicting an account Slager gave earlier this week through his attorney.
The U.S. Department of Justice said in a statement that FBI investigators would work with the State Law Enforcement Division, which typically investigates officer-involved shootings in South Carolina, and the state’s attorney general to examine any civil rights violations in Scott’s death.
Slager was denied bail Tuesday night following his arrest. An ultra-conservative group, Culture Fight, initially launched an online fundraiser to pay for the patrolman’s legal defense but the page disappeared in less than two hours.
Scott was wanted for arrest on a Family Court warrant, Charleston County sheriff’s Maj. Eric Watson said Tuesday.
He had a history of arrests related to contempt of court charges for failing to pay child support. The only accusation of violence against Scott during his lifetime came through an assault and battery charge in 1987.
Our prayers and thoughts are with the family.