Man re­counts deadly US po­lice shoot­ing

The China Post - - INTERNATIONAL - BY LOIC HOFSTEDT

A man who recorded chill­ing video of a white po­lice of­fi­cer gun­ning down a black man said Wed­nes­day that the shoot­ing fol­lowed a strug­gle in which the cop had gained con­trol of the sit­u­a­tion.

Peace­ful protests were held in the evening, with demon­stra­tors say­ing the quick ar­rest of the of­fi­cer averted vi­o­lent un­rest of the kind that erupted in sim­i­lar cases else­where in the U.S.

The now widely dis­trib­uted video of South Carolina of­fi­cer Michael Slager shoot­ing Wal­ter Scott re­peat­edly in the back was recorded by 23-year-old Fei­din San­tana.

The video sparked public out­cry and led to a mur­der charge against the po­lice­man af­ter it chal­lenged the of­fi­cer’s ac­count of the shoot­ing that took place in the coastal city of North Charleston.

The shoot­ing is Amer­ica’s lat­est high-pro­file po­lice killing of a black man by white of­fi­cers. A string of such shoot­ings of un­armed vic­tims, where of­fi­cers are rarely charged, have sparked protests around the coun­try with demon­stra­tors al­leg­ing racism in the na­tion’s po­lice forces.

“Be­fore I started record­ing, they were down on the floor. I re­mem­ber the po­lice (of­fi­cer) had con­trol of the sit­u­a­tion,” San­tana said in an in­ter­view with NBC tele­vi­sion about what he wit­nessed in the mo­ments be­fore film­ing started.

“He had con­trol of Scott. And Scott was try­ing just to get away from the Taser (stun gun).”

“I knew right away, I had some­thing on my hands,” he said about record­ing the video.

Slager was ar­rested and charged with mur­der af­ter the video sur­faced show­ing him shoot­ing eight times at Scott, 50, while Scott was run­ning away.

He was fired from the po­lice force on Wed­nes­day af­ter be­ing charged with mur­der and booked into jail.

Slager could face a sen­tence of up to life in pri­son or the death penalty.

Mayor Keith Sum­mey an­nounced the sacking at a highly charged press con­fer­ence fre­quently in­ter­rupted by res­i­dents an­gered over the killing.

The mayor said the po­lice depart­ment would buy body cam­eras for of­fi­cers to wear to help in­ves­ti­gate shoot­ings.

Dozens of pro­test­ers gath­ered in front of City Hall through­out the day Wed­nes­day and into the night.

Pro­test­ers ob­served a minute of si­lence while hold­ing can­dles. One man wore a T-shirt with the slo­gan “driv­ing while black is not a crime.”

“Tonight is a mixed emo­tion. Your heart aches for the fam­ily of Wal­ter Scott, your soul is ex­cited for the pos­si­bil­ity of hav­ing jus­tice,” said Bakari Sell­ers, 30, a black at­tor­ney and for­mer mem­ber of the South Carolina House of Rep­re­sen­ta­tives.

“Things in Charleston would have been worse than things in Fer­gu­son had he not been ar­rested, if that video hadn’t been re­leased,” said Michael Brown, 34, a black com­mu­nity or­ga­nizer in North Charleston.

He was re­fer­ring to the po­lice shoot­ing of an un­armed young man by the same name in Fer­gu­son, Mis­souri last Au­gust. The of­fi­cer was not charged.

Chill­ing Video

The South Carolina shoot­ing oc­curred Satur­day fol­low­ing a traf­fic stop for a bro­ken tail light. Af­ter ini­tial po­lice re­ports claimed Scott had taken Slager’s stun gun, San­tana’s video was re­leased to The New York Times and pub­lished Tues­day.

The video shows wires from the stun gun ex­tend­ing from Scott’s body, im­ply­ing that the vic­tim rather than the po­lice of­fi­cer had been hit as the two men scuf­fled.

As Scott, who was heavy-set, tries to flee, Slager draws his hand­gun and shoots eight times to­ward his back.

Slager ap­pears to pick up a de­vice that had fallen dur­ing the al­ter­ca­tion and drop it by Scott’s body.

Scott was hit by five bul­lets, said fam­ily lawyer Chris Ste­wart, quot­ing the coro­ner who ex­am­ined Scott’s body, ac­cord­ing to the Times.

Com­mu­nity Reacts

Scott’s fa­ther, also named Wal­ter, said the fam­ily was dev­as­tated by his son’s death, but was grate­ful for the video ev­i­dence.

“The way he was shoot­ing that gun, it looked like he was try­ing to kill a deer or some­thing run­ning through the woods. I don’t know whether it was racial or some­thing wrong with his head or what,” the fa­ther told NBC’s To­day Show.

“I thank God they had the video. God has my back. When I saw it, my heart was bro­ken. I said, ‘It can’t be.’ I saw it. I couldn’t take it any­more.”

AP

Chasyn Carter, right, of North Charleston, South Carolina em­braces Candice An­crum, of Sum­merville, South Carolina dur­ing a can­dle­light vigil out­side city hall protest­ing the shoot­ing death of Wal­ter Lamer Scott in North Charleston on Wed­nes­day, April 8.

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