South Carolina Police Shooting

South Carolina Police Shooting

Tucker Hill, Staff Writer

Tuesday, April 7, a white male police officer was charged with murder. Video evidence shows that officer Michael Slager shot and killed a black man, Walter L. Scott, in the back eight times. The officer said that he feared for his life because the man had taken his stun gun during a fight after a traffic stop on Saturday. In the video, Scott had no type of weapon in hand when he was gunned down. The shooting started after Officer Slager pulled over Scott, who was driving with a broken taillight. Scott got out of the car and ran away from officer Slager due to a warrant that was out for him for not paying child support. Officer Slager chased the man for a while, reaching a large grassy lot. Slager fired his stun gun but it didn’t faze Scott, according to police reports. Slager reported to dispatch that Scott had taken his taser, but the video that was filmed by a bystander shows that Scott had no weapon and was just running away from officer Slager.

The F.B.I. and the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division have begun to investigate the shooting. They are looking into a long line of civil rights investigations into police departments in South Carolina. In the Supreme Court, it states, “an officer may use deadly force against a suspect only when there is probable cause that the suspect poses a significant threat of death or serious physical injury to the officer or others.” This is leading to quite the controversy, due to the video evidence of Scott not harming the officer in any way.

Officer Slager had served in the United States Coast Guard before joining the Police Force in North Charleston, South Carolina. Police departments are not required to release data on how often officers use force, this is why the police chief of North Charleston did not have to return the calls made to him regarding the shooting, this meaning that it wasn’t exactly clear when looking into how often police shootings occurred in North Charleston.

Walter L. Scott had reportedly been arrested about 10 times for failing to pay child support, or for not showing up to court hearings. “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 to go to jail for back child support,” said Chris Stewart, a lawyer representing the Scott family.

The coroner’s office declined to say if Scott died immediately. Police reports say that Slager performed CPR on Scott. Video evidence shows that Scott remained face down and motionless on the ground after hand cuffed by officer Slager. With the other two officers who arrived at the scene of the shooting, there was still no evidence of CPR being preformed. Officer Slager will not face any type of prison sentence, but will still be charged with the murder of Walter L. Scott.