Family of Man Murdered by Police in Broad Daylight Speaks Out for First Time
Warning: This video contains explicit content.
The family of a South Carolina man killed by a police officer have called for justice but stressed they do not want unrest to follow the shooting, the latest in a series of killings of black men by police officers in the US.
The family of Walter Scott plans to file a civil lawsuit against the police. North Charleston police officer Michael Slager has been charged with murder. Scott, 50, was shot dead by Slager, 33, at about 9.30am on Saturday, after being pulled over for a traffic violation.
The shooting was filmed by a bystander and the video shows Slager firing his gun eight times while Scott runs away. Slager was arrested on Tuesday andcharged with murder after police saw the video.
“I would like for America to know that we want this to stop, and I would like for cops to be accountable,” Scott’s older brother Anthony said on CNN.
Scott said police should remember that “somebody may be watching, and make them think twice before firing their weapons.”
“I want to see more accountability in United States, and I don’t want to see any more violence,” he added. “Change can come over America where no other family will have to suffer the way my family is suffering right now.”
Scott toldthe local Post and Courier: “We don’t advocate violence. We advocate change.”
Scott’s mother and father said on NBC’s Today show that they were grateful to whomever filmed the shooting.
“It would’ve never come to light – they would’ve swept it under the rug like they’ve done many others,” Walter Scott Sr. said. “When I saw it I fell to my feet, and my heart was broken, and I said, Oh no, it can’t be, and when I saw it I just couldn’t take it any more.”
Anthony Scott, alongside state Rep. Justin Bamberg, told CNN that the family planned to file a civil suit against the police department and city of North Charleston. A state law enforcement agency, SLED, has taken over the investigation into the shooting along with the Justice Department and FBI.
The police department “is not off the hook,” Bamberg said.
He and Scott said that they did not want to see riots like the ones that took place in Ferguson, Missouri over the police killing of Michael Brown. They asked instead that people “let the justice process run its course.”
Bamberg said the family also want to know what police did, and what they told their superiors in the aftermath of the shooting.
Scott’s younger brother, Rodney, said the family never believed Slager’s original version of events, in which Slager claimed he and Scott struggled over his taser and the officer felt his life was threatened.
The video shows Scott several yards away with his back turned when Slager opens fire.
“Nothing that the officers had reported previously lined up to what we had seen on the video,” Scott said. “He was running for his life … I think my brother must’ve thought he was not going to be shot. No one would have thought that.”
Slager had pulled Scott’s car over because of a broken taillight, according to a police reports. Scott’s father said his son likely ran from police because he did not want to go to jail over outstanding child support payments.
According toreports, Slager said over police radio after the shooting, “Shots fired and the subject is down. He took my taser.”
A stun gun falls from Slager’s hands in the video, but it is unclear whether Scott knocked it down.
Slager’s account “wasn’t Walter,” Anthony Scott said, describing his middle brother as an outgoing father of four and well-liked figure in the community, as well as a Coast Guard veteran. “Now they no longer have a father,” he said.
“But out of my brothers, out of all of us, he knew everybody: he knew family I didn’t know, he knew friends I didn’t know.”
According to the Post and Courier’s account of local police documents, Scott had been arrested “about 10 times,” mostly with regard to child support payments. He was arrested in 1987 on an assault charge, the paper reported.
Slager, a five-year veteran of the North Charleston police force, also served in the Coast Guard, his lawyer told the New York Times.
North Charleston is the third largest city in South Carolina, with more than 100,000 residents, about 47% of whom are African American and 37% white.
The police department is more than 80% white and has disproportionately pulled over black drivers in recent years, records show.
In 2010, black drivers were involved in 65% of all traffic stops that did not result in a ticket or arrest, or about 25,000 stops. Then-police chief Jon Zumalt justified the stops as a means to bring down violence, but critics argued officers had engaged a policy of systematic harassment.