South Carolina Police shot unarmed Black man 8 times in the back.

Murderer
Murderer

A white police officer in North Charleston, S.C., was charged with murder Tuesday after shooting and killing a black man following a routine traffic stop over the weekend.

The decision to charge the officer, Michael Thomas Slager, came after graphic video footage emerged depicting Slager firing a volley of bullets into the back of Walter Scott, who was running away.

Officers rarely face criminal charges after shooting people, a fact that has played into nationwide protests over the past year over how the police use deadly force. Yet this case took a swift, unusual turn after a video shot by a bystander provided authorities with a decisive narrative that differed from Slager’s account.

“It wasn’t just based on the officers’ word anymore,” said Chris Stewart, an attorney for Scott’s family. “People were believing this story.”

A white police officer in North Charleston, S.C., was charged with murder Tuesday after shooting and killing a black man following a routine traffic stop over the weekend.

The decision to charge the officer, Michael Thomas Slager, came after graphic video footage emerged depicting Slager firing a volley of bullets into the back of Walter Scott, who was running away.

Officers rarely face criminal charges after shooting people, a fact that has played into nationwide protests over the past year over how the police use deadly force. Yet this case took a swift, unusual turn after a video shot by a bystander provided authorities with a decisive narrative that differed from Slager’s account.

“It wasn’t just based on the officers’ word anymore,” said Chris Stewart, an attorney for Scott’s family. “People were believing this story.”

A white police officer in North Charleston, S.C., was charged with murder Tuesday after shooting and killing a black man following a routine traffic stop over the weekend.

The decision to charge the officer, Michael Thomas Slager, came after graphic video footage emerged depicting Slager firing a volley of bullets into the back of Walter Scott, who was running away.

Officers rarely face criminal charges after shooting people, a fact that has played into nationwide protests over the past year over how the police use deadly force. Yet this case took a swift, unusual turn after a video shot by a bystander provided authorities with a decisive narrative that differed from Slager’s account.

“It wasn’t just based on the officers’ word anymore,” said Chris Stewart, an attorney for Scott’s family. “People were believing this story.”

“The Department of Justice will take appropriate action in light of the evidence and developments in the state case,” the department said in a statement.

Summey and the city’s chief of police announced at a news conference that Slager, 33, would be charged and arrested. Slager, who has been fired, was arrested by the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division, the agency investigating the shooting, and booked into the Charleston County jail shortly before 6 p.m. on Tuesday. He faces a possible death sentence or life in prison.

“It’s been a tragic day for many,” Eddie Driggers, the police chief, said at the news conference. “A tragic day for many.”

The shooting began with a routine traffic stop after 9:30 a.m. on Saturday morning. After Slager stopped a vehicle, he began chasing Walter Scott, 50, and fired his Taser, according to the incident report and city officials.

Footage of the shooting, first obtained by the New York Times and the Post and Courier newspaper, showed Scott fleeing from Slager across a tree-lined patch of grass. Slager fires a series of shots at Scott, who appears to be unarmed, striking Scott “multiple times in the back,” according to an affidavit filed Tuesday evening.

Slager told the dispatcher, “Shots fired and the subject is down, he took my Taser,” according to the portion of the report filled out by another officer who relayed what he heard.

The video shows Slager picking up an item and placing it near Scott, though it is unclear if this is the Taser or something else. Police later said that Scott was hit with the Taser at least once, because part of it was still attached to him when other officers arrived on the scene. But city officials said that Scott was clearly too far away to use a Taser if he did have it.

“I can tell you that as a result of that video and the bad decision made by our officer, he will be charged with murder,” Summey said at the news conference.

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