A South Carolina police officer has been arrested and charged with murder after video emerged showing him shooting at a fleeing man eight times.
North Charleston Patrolman 1st Class Michael Slager fatally shot 50-year-old Walter Scott during a traffic stop Saturday morning. He claimed through an attorney that Scott had commandeered his Taser and opened fire because he felt threatened, The Post and Courier reported.
According to The Washington Post, Slager told a police dispatcher, “Shots fired and the subject is down, he took my Taser.”
But a bystander’s video of the incident undermined Slager’s claim. The video begins with Scott, who is black, and Slager, who is white, both standing and locked in some type of struggle. It is unclear from the video, but it appears that Slager’s Taser had been deployed.
Scott then runs away from Slager at which point the officer opens fire. He shoots eight times, and Scott is seen stumbling as he is hit. After he falls to the ground, Slager appears to look to the side and slightly over his shoulder. He walks towards Scott as he begins speaking into his police radio.
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Slager is then heard commanding Scott to put his hands behind his back. He is then seen cuffing Scott and then walking away as another officer arrives on the scene.
Towards the end of the three-minute video, Slager is seen checking Scott’s pulse. He was later pronounced dead.
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Scott had a family court arrest warrant and had a number of previous run-ins with the law, mostly related to failure to pay child support. He was arrested in 1987 for a crime involving violence, though details of that have not been made available.
North Charleston police reviewed the video and announced on Tuesday that they were charging Slager with murder.
“When you’re wrong, you’re wrong,” North Charleston mayor Keith Summey said at a press conference. “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.”
Slager is a five-year veteran of the force. Prior to that he served in the U.S. Coast Guard. He had never been disciplined during his time on the force, though a complaint was filed against him in 2013 by a man who said the officer shot him with a Taser for no reason.
Local records show Slager was booked into Charleston County jail shortly before 6 p.m. local time on Tuesday.