Last April, here in South Carolina, Walter Scott was pulled over in North Charleston because he had a broken taillight. A few minutes later, Officer Michael Slager shot Walter Scott in the back as the man was running away. Slager tried to claim it was self-defense but, thanks to the cell phone video of bystander Feidin Santana, Michael Slager was arrested for the killing, and subsequently fired.
“Once they get you there, we’ll take you home. Take your crap off, take your vest off, kind of relax for two or three [days]. It’ll be real quick. They’re gonna tell you you’re gonna be out for a couple of days and you’ll come back and they’ll interview you then. They’re not going to ask you any kind of questions right now. They’ll take your weapon and we’ll go from there. The last one we had, they waited a couple of days for an official interview — to sit down and say what happens."
"By the time you get home, it would probably be a good idea to kind of jot down your thoughts on what happened. You know, once the adrenaline quits pumping."
“Oh yeah, it’s pumping.”
One juror listened as the story unfolded ...
On April 4, 2015, Officer Michael Slager stopped Walter Scott for a broken brake light. Video from Slager's dashcam shows him approaching Scott's car, speaking to Scott, and then returning to his patrol car.
Walter Scott then exited his car and began to run; Slager raced after him.
In a parking area the two men scuffled and Slager claims Scott "resisted arrest". Slager fired his Taser, hitting Scott who still managed to start running again.
When Walter Scott was nearly twenty feet away, Officer Slager took out his gun and fired eight rounds at him; Walter Scott was struck a total of five times.
Immediately after the shooting, Slager radioed a dispatcher, stating, "Shots fired and the subject is down. He grabbed my Taser.”
But, again, when Slager fired his gun, Scott was about twenty feet away and fleeing; but Slager still claimed he feared for his life because Scott had taken his Taser, and that he shot Scott because he "felt threatened" ... by a man running away from a broken taillight traffic stop.
Luckily, Feidin Santana had recorded a cellphone video of the incident. At first he kept the video to himself, out of fear of retribution, but he grew angered while reading Officer Slager’s account and realizing it was very different from what he’d seen.
Santana said that after a struggle in which Slager deployed his Taser, Scott was "just trying to get away from the Taser," and that before he started recording, he observed that Slager "had control of the situation"; Santana also maintains that Scott "never grabbed the Taser of the police. He never got the Taser."
Santana also claims that, after the shooting, after Scott was shot and had fallen to the ground, Slager approached him, repeatedly instructed him to place his hands behind his back, and handcuffed him, leaving him face down on the ground.
He never performed CPR; he never checked to see if Scott was alive; he left the man face down on the ground.
Santana’s video shows Slager going back to where the initial scuffle began and picking something—allegedly the taser—off the ground and carrying it over to Walter Scott’s body where he dropped it on the ground; at trial Slager says he did bring his taser over to Scott’s body because he was just “gathering” his gear.
One juror listened as that story unfolded ... and said he or she could not make a decision.
Look, I wasn’t there; I wasn’t on the jury; I don’t know all of the facts. But I do know that a man was gunned down in the street, an unarmed man, while running away from what would have amounted to a Fix-It ticket.
And I do know that that Slager shot Walter Scott five times as Scott ran away, when Slager, who’d spoken to Scott, apparently gotten his information, had his license plate number, could have just let him go and, perhaps, a warrant would have been issued for Scott’s arrest.
And I know, because Michael Slager admitted to it’ he said that the taser Walter Scott allegedly grabbed, was picked up off the ground and carried twenty feet to Scott’s body and set down beside the dead man.
Now, Slager might have been gathering his gear and he might have been strengthening his story that Scott had tried to grab the taser; and that might have worked were it not for the video.
And I know that Walter Scott is not an innocent; he shouldn’t have run; he shouldn’t have fought with the officer; but he was not a threat when he was gunned down ... he was unarmed and running away.
But in America, in some places, with some police officers, that warrants shooting a man in the back five times.
Prosecutors say they will a new trial for Slager, and the Scott family expressed confidence that he would ultimately be convicted.
Slager’s lawyer had no comment.
“God is my strength, and I know without a doubt that he is a just God. Injustice will not prevail.”—Judy Scott, Walter Scott’s mother.
And hopefully a retrial will have all jurors listening to the facts.