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South Carolina cop charged with murder for shooting unarmed man

by Maggie Elliot - The Oregon Herald Wednesday April 8, 2015    8:23 AM

CHARLESTON, South Carolina - A white cop in North Charleston was charged with murder on Tuesday after a video was released clearly showing the officer fatally shooting an unarmed black man in the back.

33-year-old Michael T. Slager said he feared for his life because the suspect took his stun gun in a scuffle after a traffic stop on Saturday. The video clearly shows the officer firing eight times as 50-year-old Walter L. Scott slowly ran away.

Officer Michael Slager shot Scott eight times as Scott has his back to him and is running away. It appears that Scott was unarmed.

Slager is charged with murder, the FBI is investigating, and once again a police-involved shooting has continued a national outrage.

Protesters are wearing T-shirts that say "Black Lives Matter", chanting the phrase that became popular after several police-involved killings of black men around the country: "No justice, no peace!"

Slager pulled Scott over on Saturday morning for a broken taillight, authorities have said.

The officer first stated that he used a Taser stun gun on Scott and that Scott tried to take his weapon.

But that is not what the video shows.

When Scott's brother Anthony Scott saw the video, he was convinced the officer had lied.

"There was not a struggle for the Taser," Anthony Scott said. "I didn't believe my brother would have done that anyway."

The video shows his brother was "running for his life" away from the officer apparently to avoid being Tasered again.

"I think my brother was thinking he was not going to be shot, no one would have thought that," Scott said.

A man walking to work on Saturday made the video and gave it to the family, Anthony Scott said.

If convicted of murder, Slager could face life in prison or the death penalty.

"People are upset, people are pointing out how wrong the officer was for gunning down Mr. Scott," South Carolina State Rep. Justin Bamberg said as he stood alongside Anthony Scott on Wednesday.

Bamberg said he hasn't heard of anyone acting out violently to protest the shooting.

He and Scott stressed they don't want that to happen.

"Things are in play now, and this officer is in the process of being prosecuted," Bamberg said, imploring anyone listening to him speak on CNN: "We ask that you let the justice process run its course."

Slager said that he used his Taser stun gun and that Scott took his Taser, according to police reports.

"Shots fired and the subject is down," Slager said, according to reports. "He took my Taser."

Before the officer started firing his gun, a dark object falls behind him and hits the ground. It's not clear whether that is the Taser.

Later in the video, when the officer approaches Scott's body, he drops a dark object next to the man. It's not clear whether that is the Taser.

It's unknown whether Scott took the officer's Taser, or whether the officer picked the object up and moved it closer to the body.

"The officer said that Walter ran from the vehicle during the traffic stop," Scott family attorney Chris Stewart said.

The beginning of the video shows two men standing close to each other.

It's unknown what words were exchanged or what type of confrontation may have occurred before Scott ran away.

And it's unclear why Scott ran.

Regardless, "running from an officer doesn't result in the death penalty," Stewart said.

Just after the shooting Immediately after Scott was shot, according to the video, someone yells, "Put your hands behind your back!"

Scott, now motionless and face-down on the ground, is handcuffed.

It's unclear why, according to the footage, Slager and another officer who arrive appear to not give first aid to Scott while waiting for an ambulance.

The reaction The mayor of North Charleston lambasted the killing.

"I can tell you that as the result of that video and the bad decision made by our officer, he will be charged with murder," North Charleston Mayor Keith Summey told reporters Tuesday.

"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."

U.S. Sen. Tim Scott of South Carolina called the shooting "absolutely unnecessary and avoidable."

Victim photo: 50-year-old Walter L. Scott. The family of an unarmed man killed by a police officer over three years ago finally has a chance at getting some closure as the cop was charged with the man's murder on Wednesday. Bernard Bailey, 53, went to the Eutawville Police Department on May 2, 2011, to discuss the processing of a traffic ticket given to […] South Carolina Cop...

Photo: Officer Michael Slager said he feared for his life after the man took his Taser. But Slager was charged after a bystander’s video surfaced that shows him firing eight times at the fleeing man.
Photo 2: 33-year-old Michael T. Slager.
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