Michael Slager, South Carolina Police Officer, Arrested For Murder After Video Of Traffic Stop Shooting Surfaces
Michael Slager, a South Carolina police officer, is under arrest for murder after video of him shooting an unarmed man during a traffic stop surfaced on Tuesday.
Officer Michael Slager Shot And Killed Walter Scott [VIDEO]
Officer Slager, a white man, shot and killed Walter Scott, an African American man, age 50, on Saturday morning after pulling him over for a broken brake light. The two reportedly got into an altercation and Scott, who had a warrant out for his arrest relating to a child support case, fled the scene. According to Officer Slager’s original statement, he was forced to discharge his weapon after a struggle broke out. Slager claimed he had tried to use his Taser on Scott, but was ineffective, and that Scott then took the Taser, causing Slager to fear for his life, take out his gun and shoot. Audio from his radio call moments after the shooting shows that Slager immediately claimed Scott was in possession of the Taser: “Shots fired. Subject is down. He grabbed my Taser,” Slager said.
Slager’s original attorney, David Aylor, who dropped Slager as a client after the video surfaced, released a statement describing Slager’s version of events earlier this week:
“What started out as a routine traffic stop quickly escalated after the driver fled while his passenger remained in the car. A foot chase then started and when confronted Officer Slager reached for his Taser – as trained by the department, and then a struggle ensued as the driver tried to overpower Officer Slager in an effort to take his Taser who then felt threatened and reached for his department issued firearm and fired his weapon. This is a very tragic event for all of the families. I believe once the community hears all the facts of this shooting, they’ll have a better understanding of the circumstances surrounding this investigation. Officer Slager believes he followed all the proper procedures and policies of the North Charleston Police Department.”
After Slager’s statement was released, video of the shooting surfaced online, which tells a very different story. A witness, who has not been publicly identified, but is reportedly working with investigators, caught the shooting on camera. In the video, Slager is seen firing multiple times at Scott as Scott attempts to run away – there is no struggle evident in the video, nor does Scott appear to be in possession of the Taser.
WARNING: Graphic Footage
In the video, Officer Slager is seen firing eight shots at Scott – he was hit five times – who falls to the ground. Slager then approached Scott, telling him to put his hands behind his back before handcuffing him, despite the fact that Scott is immobile. (The handcuffing of suspects after shots are fired is reportedly regular procedure, but it does make for a chilling image.) Officer Slager walks off and returns to where he had been standing when he fired and retrieved an object from the ground, supposedly his Taser. Slager is then seen walking slowly back to Scott’s body, where another officer has arrived, and dropping an object near Scott – believed to be the Taser.
While the official police report claimed that officers administered CPR at the scene of the shooting, this is not evident in the video, which shows Scott face down and handcuffed for a few minutes after the shooting.
Officer Slager Arrested For Murder
Shortly after the video surfaced, Slager, 33, was arrested and charged with murder, and he has been fired from the North Charleston Police Department. Slager has not received bail and is scheduled to appear in court on Aug. 21. “When you’re wrong, you’re wrong. 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,” said North Charleston Mayor Keith Summey.
Meanwhile, Scott’s family have spoken out to express their outrage, and expanded on Scott’s decision to run from the police. “He has four children; he doesn’t have some type of big violent past or arrest record. He had a job; he was engaged. He had back child support and didn’t want to go to jail for back child support,” said Scott’s family lawyer Chris Stewart.
The South Carolina Law Enforcement Division, which investigates police shootings in the state, is investigating along with the FBI and the Justice Department.