A white police officer in South Carolina has been charged with murder after shooting an unarmed black man in the back.
Video taken by a bystander, and provided to the New York Times by an attorney, shows Officer Michael Slager, 33, tussling with Walter L. Scott, 50, following a traffic stop on Saturday.
Officer Slager stopped a Mercedes Benz with a broken taillight, according to a police report obtained by the Charlotte Observer. Mr. Scott jumped from the vehicle and ran. The officer pursued the fleeing man into a grassy field behind a muffler shop.
The video starts as Mr. Scott was apparently tasered by Officer Slager. Wires from the stun gun can be seen dangling from Mr. Scott as he turned and ran.
Officer Slager drew his service weapon and fired 8 times. Mr. Scott was about 20 feet away from Officer Slager when he fell to the ground after the 8th shot.
The video shows Slager walk toward the spot where Scott fell. As he walked, he reported on his police radio, “Shots fired and the subject is down. He took my Taser.”
At about the same time, another police officer arrived on the scene. While the 2nd officer tended to Mr. Scott who is lying face down in the grass, Officer Slager strolled back to the spot where his stun gun fell. He is seen picking up the tun gun and walking back toward where Mr. Scott lay motionless in the grass.
The video shows Officer Slager casually drop the stun gun near Mr. Scott's body.
The 2nd officer appears not to notice that Officer Slager planted evidence near a dying man's body.
Mayor Keith Summey announced state charges against Officer Slager at a news conference at noon today (April 7).
“When you’re wrong, you’re wrong,” Mayor 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.”
The Charlotte Observer reports that Mr. Scott has been arrested 10 times since 1987, mostly for failure to pay child support. Other charges include assault and battery.
Mr. Scott's brother, Anthony, told the Observer his brother probably ran from the officer because he owes child support for his four children and he didn't want to go to jail.
”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 attorney Chris Stewart, who represents Mr. Scott’s family. “He had back child support and didn’t want to go to jail for back child support.”
A coroner's report shows Mr. Scott was shot five times -- three times in the back, once in the upper buttock and once in the ear. One of the bullets pierced his heart. He most likely bled out quickly from the heart wound.
Neither officer provided CPR to Mr. Scott. He likely would have died anyway from the fatal heart shot.