Latest on police shooting: Bystander emerges, explains video
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Latest on police shooting: Bystander emerges, explains video
The Associated Press
Apr. 09, 2015
Feidin Santana told MSNBC that he initially considered deleting the video he recorded of a police officer shooting at Walter Scott eight times as Scott ran away, and thought about leaving North Charleston out of fear for his own safety.
Santana, a barber originally from the Dominican Republic, said he was walking to work Saturday when he saw police pursuing Scott and followed them to the area where the shooting unfolded. Santana said he heard the sound of a Taser being deployed and Scott began running before the shots were fired. Santana said Scott appeared to have already been unconscious when the officer put handcuffs on him and walked away.
Santana said he later saw a police report about the shooting and knew that he had to come forward because the officer's account of what led to the shooting didn't match what he recorded. Santana said he showed the video to a friend after reading the report, and his friend agreed that he needed to come forward.
"I just put myself in the position of the family," Santana said, adding that he knew no charges would be filed against the officer who shot Scott if the video wasn't released.
The bystander whose cellphone video of a police shooting in South Carolina put an officer in jail on a murder charge has come forward and explained why he started recording the crime scene.
Feidin Santana told NBC Wednesday that he was walking to work and approached the scene because he noticed officer Michael Slager controlling Walter Scott on the ground. He began recording when he heard the sound of a Taser. He says "Mr. Scott was trying just to get away from the Taser."
The video then shows Slager firing eight times at the back of the unarmed man, until he crumples to the ground about 30 feet away.
Santana turned the video over to Scott's family and has been cooperating with investigators.
The family's lawyer, L. Chris Stewart, calls Santana a "hero."
Police reports say there was a passenger in the car that was stopped before a white officer shot a black man to death in South Carolina.
Police say the driver of the Mercedes-Benz, Walter Scott, was pulled over Saturday morning for a broken tail light. At some point after the traffic stop, video taken by a bystander shows Scott running away from officer Michael Slager. The officer fires eight times, killing Scott.
As Slager was in a foot chase with Scott, another officer secured Slager's car and spoke to the passenger in Scott's vehicle, according to police reports. The passenger was not identified in the police reports and it's not clear who was riding with Scott.
Scott's family does not know who the passenger was, Ryan Julison, a spokesman for family lawyer Chris Stewart said in an email.
The mayor of North Charleston, where a white police officer fatally shot a black man in the back, says every officer in uniform on the street will get a body camera.
North Charleston Mayor Keith Summey said Wednesday that the city had already ordered 101 body cameras for its officers, and after the shooting, he decided to order 150 more.
It may take some time before the cameras are being used. Summey said officers have to be trained and a policy for the use of the cameras must be written and approved by lawyers.
Police spokesman Spencer Pryor said the department didn't know exactly how long that will take.
The shooting Saturday was captured on video by an anonymous bystander.
Authorities in South Carolina have released the radio dispatch traffic related to the fatal shooting of a black man who was running away from a white police officer.
On the recording, North Charleston Patrolman Michael Slager can be heard telling a dispatcher that he is conducting a traffic stop on a gray Mercedes-Benz. Breathing heavily, Slager then says he is in a foot pursuit, giving the description: "Black male, green shirt, blue pants."
The tape appears to have been edited by officials prior to its public release, making it unclear how much time passed between the calls. The dispatcher can be heard calling for all other police units in the area to respond. Several officers can be heard saying they are on the way. In the background, a voice yells "Lie on the ground!"
Seconds later, Slager says: "Shots fired. Subject is down. He grabbed my Taser."
A voice asks if everyone at the scene is "10-4," a radio code often used by officers to mean "OK."
Slager responds: "Everyone is 10-4, except for the suspect. ... Gunshot wound, it looks like, to the chest, to the right side. Unresponsive. ... Another gunshot wound to the buttocks."
The black man, Walter L. Scott, died at the scene.
At the White House, spokesman Josh Earnest said the video was "awfully hard to watch."
Earnest said he hadn't discussed the shooting with President Barack Obama but wouldn't be surprised if Obama had seen the video.
"I think even the investigators themselves have acknowledged that when this video evidence was presented, that it changed the way that they were looking at this case," Earnest said.
Earnest cited statements by investigators as well as research indicating that use of body cameras leads to a decline in the number of violent police confrontations.
The Obama administration earlier this year announced a $75 million grant to help police departments acquire and begin using body cameras.
Earnest declined to comment on whether a civil rights investigation is warranted.
A steady stream of people is visiting the empty lot where a white police officer fatally shot a black man who was running away after a traffic stop.
The lot sits on a side street behind a body shop and an automotive store on a busy commercial corridor of North Charleston.
A few memorials have been placed at the site, including white flowers in the shape of a cross. They were set in the field where Walter Scott was killed.
P. Crable Washington, 48, works at the port in North Charleston. Washington, who is black, said he's always extra careful when he drives to his job from Charleston.
"You change your attitude immediately if you're coming here from downtown Charleston. It's a different vibe and it isn't good," Washington said.
A spokesman for the North Charleston police department says he thinks dash-cam video will be released Thursday to shed light on what happened before a white officer fatally shot a black man.
Spokesman Spencer Pryor said state law enforcement agents investigating the shooting told him they hope to release the dash-cam video Thursday.
Video taken by a witness shows Officer Michael Slager firing eight times at 50-year-old Walter Scott, who was running away.
Pryor says no other police officers have been disciplined other than Slager, who was fired.
North Charleston Mayor Keith Summey says the white police officer who fatally shot a black man has been fired.
Summey made the announcement during a news conference that was frequently interrupted by demonstrators chanting "no justice, no peace." Later, the protesters called on him to resign.
Widely circulated video of the shooting shows Officer Michael Slager shooting eight times into the back of 50-year-old Walter Scott.
Police Chief Eddie Driggers said he was "sickened" watching video taken by an unidentified witness.
Summey did not answer many questions about what happened before the shooting, referring them a state law enforcement agency.
The older brother of a black man who was fatally shot in the back by a white police officer says he is not sure if race played any role in the shooting.
"I don't believe so, but I don't know," said Anthony Scott, the older brother of Walter Scott, who was killed Saturday after a traffic stop. "I believe he was running because he didn't want to be tased."
Before video of the shooting surfaced, police had said there was a fight over the officer's stun gun.
The older brother said Walter was the middle of three brothers who friends called "The Three Amigos."
"We were really close, the three of us," he said.
The fatal shooting of a black man by a white police officer is bringing more attention to legislation that would require all South Carolina police officers to wear body cameras.
Sen. Marlon Kimpson, whose district includes North Charleston, said Wednesday he hopes the shooting advances the legislation he is co-sponsoring. It has been stuck in a subcommittee, partly over cost concerns.
North Charleston will get its officers 115 body cameras as part of a $275,000 earmark in this year's state budget.
Estimates show it will cost about $21.5 million to equip all state and local officers with cameras. Maintenance and data storage costs are expected to be about $12 million in following years.
"The investment is vital to giving people confidence in the system," said Kimpson, a Democrat.
The county sheriff whose jurisdiction includes North Charleston attended a rally for a black man who was fatally shot in the back by a white police officer.
Charleston County Sheriff Al Cannon said he went to the demonstration Wednesday to meet with community members and keep an eye on what was a peaceful protest. His jurisdiction includes North Charleston.
The sheriff said his department started reviewing its policies dealing with minorities after a white officer fatally shot a black man in Ferguson, Missouri.
Cannon said he understands that heavy-handed police tactics of the past few decades have fostered mistrust of law enforcement. He thinks investigators would have seen through the officer's lies without the video, but the video made their job easier.
"Like the family attorney said, once that video came out things moved quickly," Cannon said.
The North Charleston mayor and police chief are visiting the parents of a black man killed by a white officer to offer their condolences.
North Charleston Mayor Keith Summey and Police Chief Eddie Driggers arrived at the home of Walter Scott Sr. and Judy Scott. They live in nearby Charleston.
Their son, Walter L. Scott, was fatally shot Saturday. North Charleston Patrolman Michael Thomas Slager is charged with murder in the killing. A witness took video of the shooting, showing Slager firing eight times as Scott ran away after a traffic stop.
The FBI and the Justice Department's Civil Rights Division are investigating the shooting of a black man by a white police officer in South Carolina.
The agencies will look for whether the shooting amounted to a federal civil rights violation. Proving that an officer willfully deprived an individual of his or her civil rights has historically been a tall burden for federal prosecutors, particularly when an officer uses force during a rapidly unfolding physical confrontation in which split-second decisions are made.
The Justice Department spent months investigating the shooting of Michael Brown last summer in Ferguson, Missouri, but ultimately declined to prosecute Darren Wilson, the officer involved in that case.
About 40 to 50 people are at North Charleston City Hall, protesting in the shooting death of a black man by a white officer after a traffic stop.
Several people have told stories about police harassment in North Charleston for what they call minor offenses, such expired license tags or marijuana possession.
Muhiydin D'Baha says: "There shouldn't be so many stories. But there are."
D'Baha, of the group Black Lives Matter, ran the demonstration with a bullhorn, chanting with the group about the eight shots fired at Walter Lamer Scott as he ran from North Charleston Patrolman Michael Thomas Slager.
Nicole King called herself a friend of Scott's fiancee and left the rally in tears.
She says: "It was just a traffic stop. It could have been any of us."
After the fatal shooting of a black man by a white police officer — captured by a witness in a dramatic video — protests were planned in North Charleston, led by a group formed after the fatal shooting of another black man in Ferguson, Missouri.
A local Black Lives Matter group, formed after Michael Brown's death, planned its demonstration for Wednesday morning at North Charleston City Hall.
Walter Lamer Scott was shot by North Charleston Patrolman Michael Thomas Slager, who fired eight times in the incident after a traffic stop Saturday. Slager was charged with murder. Officials announced the charge Tuesday after the video was released.
Scott's family and their attorney, L. Chris Stewart, called for calm and peaceful protests. They said the murder charge showed that the justice system is working in this case.
The parents of a black man who was fatally shot while fleeing a white police officer call the shooting horrible, with his father saying it looked as if the officer was trying to "kill a deer running through the woods."
Judy Scott, the mother of 50-year-old Walter Lamer Scott, told ABC's "Good Morning America" on Wednesday that she almost couldn't look at the video showing the shooting last weekend. She says it tore her heart to pieces.
His father, Walter Scott Sr., tells NBC's "Today Show" that his son may have run after being pulled for a traffic stop because he owed child support and didn't want to go back to jail.
The father says he doesn't know if the shooting was racially motivated.
After authorities saw the video, shot by a bystander, they charged North Charleston Patrolman Michael Thomas Slager with murder