US cop charged with mur­der af­ter shoot­ing man in back

The China Post - - INTERNATIONAL - BY STEPHEN DOCK­ERY

Po­lice in the U.S. state of South Carolina charged an of­fi­cer Tues­day with mur­der af­ter video showed him ap­par­ently gun­ning down a flee­ing black man, a rare ar­rest in a string of shoot­ings of un­armed black men that have raised al­le­ga­tions of po­lice racism.

South Carolina state po­lice ar­rested Of­fi­cer Michael Slager, 33, and charged him with mur­der, a felony that car­ries a sen­tence of up to life in pri­son or the death penalty, ac­cord­ing to of­fi­cial doc­u­ments.

“The de­fen­dant (Slager) did shoot the vic­tim mul­ti­ple times in the back af­ter an al­ter­ca­tion. All this is based upon video ev­i­dence and the in­ves­ti­ga­tion of the State Law En- force­ment Di­vi­sion,” reads a South Carolina court doc­u­ment.

A num­ber of killings of un­armed black men by po­lice of­fi­cers in re­cent months have sparked protests across the United States with pro­test­ers al­leg­ing racism in the na­tion’s po­lice and rais­ing ac­cu­sa­tions that of­fi­cers use ex­ces­sive force.

Of­fi­cers have rarely been charged in the shoot­ings, even when the in­ci­dents were recorded.

Slager’s ar­rest comes af­ter video sur­faced of the shoot­ing that killed 50-year-old Wal­ter Scott Satur­day in the coastal city of North Charleston.

The video seems to show Slager in an al­ter­ca­tion with Scott and then drawing his gun and shoot­ing seven or eight shots in Scott’s back as Scott fled.

The of­fi­cer ap­proaches Scott, who is on the ground, telling him to put his hands be­hind his back, and Slager puts him in hand­cuffs, the video shows. Slager then ap­pears to get a de­vice that had fallen dur­ing the al­ter­ca­tion and drop it by Scott’s body.

The video was first re­leased by The New York Times af­ter be­ing given to the news­pa­per by the Scott fam­ily’s lawyer.

Slager was charged with mur­der in a South Carolina court be­fore be­ing booked into a nearby jail.

The in­ci­dent was prompted by a traf­fic stop due to a bro­ken tail light, lo­cal me­dia said.

North Charleston mayor Keith Sum­mey de­scribed the shoot­ing as a “bad de­ci­sion,” lo­cal news­pa­per The Post and Courier re­ported.

“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,” the mayor said.

The vic­tim’s fam­ily spoke out at a news con­fer­ence af­ter the of­fi­cer’s ar­rest, say­ing they were grate­ful for the “hero” who recorded the video.

“If there wasn’t a video, would we know the truth? Or would we have just gone with what was re­ported ear­lier? But we know the truth now,” said Wal­ter’s brother An­thony in re­marks broad­cast on the MSNBC net­work.

The U.S. Jus­tice Depart­ment re­leased a state­ment say­ing it would “take ap­pro­pri­ate ac­tion in light of the ev­i­dence and de­vel­op­ments in the state case.”

“The South Carolina Of­fice of the Fed­eral Bureau of In­ves­ti­ga­tion has opened an in­ves­ti­ga­tion con­cur­rent with the South Carolina Law En­force­ment Di­vi­sion and are pro­vid­ing aid as nec­es­sary to the state in­ves­ti­ga­tion. The Depart­ment of Jus­tice Civil Rights Di­vi­sion and the South Carolina U.S. At­tor­ney’s Of­fice will work with the FBI in the in­ves­ti­ga­tion,” it read.

AP

In this April 4 frame from a video pro­vided by at­tor­ney L. Chris Ste­wart rep­re­sent­ing the fam­ily of Wal­ter Lamer Scott, Scott ap­pears to be run­ning away from City Pa­trol­man Michael Thomas Slager, right, in North Charleston, South Carolina.

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