South Carolina Officer Kills Black Man, Faces Murder Charge
On Tuesday, a video of a white police officer shooting the back of an unarmed black man, henceforth killing him, was released. The officer was later arrested for murder.
The video shows Walter L. Scott attempting to flee from the scene as Michael T. Slager, an officer from North Charleston, S.C., shoots the escapee. Slager had pulled over Scott who was driving a Mercedes-Benz with a broken light. Scott told the media through his lawyer, David Aylor, that he took Slager’s stun gun.
According to The Post and Courier, Slager said he felt threatened for his life and subsequently shot Scott.
The incident caused Keith Summey, the North Charleston mayor, to impose state charges on the police officer at a news conference on Tuesday evening. He said that it was a “bad decision” on Slager’s part, and thus he will be charged with murder.
“When you’re wrong, you’re wrong,” Mayor Summey said, according to The New York Times.
“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.”
Slager has been taken into police custody.
African Americans constitute 47 percent of North Charleston’s population of 100,000, while whites make up 37 percent. According to data retrieved from the Justice Department in 2007, the Police Department has 80 percent white individuals.
The South Carolina Law Enforcement Division – the state’s criminal investigative body – the FBI and the Justice Department are investigating the matter.
According to the Supreme Court, an officer can inflict violence of any sort on the suspect when there is probable cause that the suspect “poses a significant threat of death or serious physical injury to the officer or others.”
Scott has been arrested 10 times in the past; in 1987 for an assault and battery charge and in 1991 for possessing a bludgeon. However, his convictions have mostly been connected with failure to provide child support, which is the reason why he ran away from Slager, according to Anthony, Scott’s brother,
Chris Stewart, a lawyer for Scott’s family, said, “He has four children; he doesn’t have some type of big violent past or arrest record.
“He had a job; he was engaged. He had back child support and didn’t want to go to jail for back child support.”
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