Officer Charged with Murder for Shooting Unarmed Black Man in South Carolina

A police officer in South Carolina has been charged with murder after a disturbing video surfaced that showed him shooting a man—who appeared to be unarmed—multiple times as he attempted to run away. Walter L. Scott had been pulled over for a broken taillight. The officer, Michael T. Slager, is white, and Scott, the victim, was black. The officer’s account of the shooting—in which he said that Scott “took my Taser”—differs from a video taken by a bystander. In the video, the Taser can be seen falling to ground during the confrontation, but wires from the Taser are attached to Scott. The victim did not appear to pose any threat as he was fleeing. After he was shot five times, the officer appeared to pick something up, possibly the stun gun, and place it next to Scott’s body.

According to the police report, officers administered first aid and CPR to Scott, but in the video, the victim is shown being handcuffed as he lay on his stomach with gunshot wounds. Even after several other officers arrive and begin to attend to Scott, no CPR is shown. The mayor of North Charleston—whose police department is 80 percent white, even though white residents only account for 37 percent of the population—announced the murder charges at a press conference. The F.B.I. and Justice Department have also launched investigations. It is not clear why Scott fled, though a lawyer for the family said, “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” …

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