North Charleston, South Carolina Police Officer Charged with Murder After Video Shows Police Shooting Unarmed Man in Back

VIEWER DISCRETION: Cell phone video shows a police officer in North Charleston, South Carolina firing shots and killing an unarmed man.

A male/white police officer in North Charleston, S.C., was charged with murder Tuesday after a video surfaced showing him shooting a male/black subject who was fleeing. The male/black subject was unarmed and was shot in the back while running away. The shooting victim, Walter L. Scott, age 50, was involved in a traffic stop with the police officer after he was pulled over with a broken tail light. The video shows the police officer shooting eight times at the man.

Police officer, Michael T. Slager, 33, said he had feared for his life because the man had taken his stun gun in a scuffle after a traffic stop on Saturday, April 4, 2015.

The scene was captured on video by a bystander, who provided the video to The New York Times via Scott family’s lawyer. The video begins in the vacant lot, apparently moments after Officer Slager fired his Taser. The Taser wires, which carry the electrical current from the stun gun, appear to be extending from Walter Scott’s body as the two men struggle and as Walter Scott turns to run away from the police officer. After the shooting, the video shows the police officer dropping a black object with his right hand near the victim. The object appears to be the shape of a gun or a taser. The officer then picks up the object, but not immediately after the object was dropped.

Scott was struck five times — three times in the back, once in the upper buttocks and once in the ear. The pathway of one of the bullets entered his heart.

Police reports said that officers performed CPR and delivered first aid to Mr. Scott, but the video shows no CPR being performed. For several minutes after the shooting, Walter Scott remained face down with his hands in handcuffs behind his back. A second officer arrives, puts on blue medical gloves and attends to Mr. Scott, but is not shown performing CPR. As sirens are heard in the background, a third officer arrives with a medical kit, but is also not seen performing CPR. The only medical attention visible in the video is the taking of the victim’s pulse at the area of the carotid artery in the victim’s neck.

The South Carolina Law Enforcement Division has begun an inquiry into the shooting. The F.B.I. and the Justice Department, which has opened several civil rights investigations into police departments under Attorney General Eric Holder, is also investigating the North Charleston case.

North Charleston is South Carolina’s third-largest city, with a population of about 100,000 and about 340 police officers. African-Americans make up about 47 percent of residents, and white residents account for about 37 percent of the population.

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