Tags: south carolina | police shooting | Michael Slager | Walter Scott

Officer to NY Times: SC Shooting Video Made Squad Room 'Cringe'

By    |   Thursday, 09 April 2015 08:28 AM

A team of experts — comprised of law professors, former prosecutors and police officers — who reviewed the bystander video capturing a white South Carolina police officer shooting an unarmed black man in the back as he ran away tell The New York Times that it did not appear that the officer had any legal justification for firing his weapon.

"The suspect was trying to avoid the officer," Stephen A. Saltzburg, a professor at the George Washington University Law School and a former deputy assistant attorney general in the criminal division of the Justice Department, told the Times.

"It is highly doubtful that the officer could legitimately claim that he thought that the suspect posed a danger to the life or the serious health of anybody else in the community."

Following a routine traffic stop for a broken tail light on Saturday, North Charleston Officer Michael Slager opened fire on 50-year-old Walter Scott as he ran away.

A bystander, Feidin Santana, saw the events unfold as he walked to work that day. He told NBC News that he saw Slager and Scott scuffle, but the officer subdued Scott by using his Taser.

"He had control of Scott, and Scott was trying to get away from the Taser," Santana said. "Like I say, he never used the Taser again."

The officer told investigators that he first used a Taser stun gun during a confrontation with Scott but that Scott grabbed it. The Times reports that in the video, Scott "appeared to have nothing in his hands as he fled."

Slager fired eight shots.

"In the legal test of whether an officer is justified in shooting a fleeing person, certain factors must be present, including that the officer believes the suspect committed or was about to commit a dangerous and serious felony, such as an assault," the legal experts told the Times.

"The other factors include whether the suspect threatens the officer with a weapon or whether the officer believes the suspect will cause death or serious injury to the officer, other officers or to the public if not apprehended."

The Guardian published a video of the shooting synced with the real-time police scanner traffic. On it, Slager is seen dropping an object, which some have speculated is a Taser, next to Scott's body.

Story continues below video.

A veteran police officer who watched the video told the Times that he questioned why Slager opted to stand in place and fire his weapon rather than chase Scott. The newspaper did not identify the officer, citing the officer's concerns that he was not authorized to speak to the media.

"We watched it at roll call," the officer said of the video. "Everyone cringed. Because the video itself looks horrendous. It looks like he's just shooting an unarmed man."

Slager, 33, a five-year veteran of the North Charleston Police Department, has been fired from his job and is charged with murder. His wife is eight months pregnant, according to CNN.

The mayor told the network that the city will continue paying for the wife's medical insurance until the baby is born.

The FBI is involved in the investigation.

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A team of experts - after viewing a bystander's video - tell The New York Times that a South Carolina white police officer who shot and killed a fleeing black man did not appear to have any justification for his act. "We watched it at roll call," the officer said. "Everyone cringed."
south carolina, police shooting, Michael Slager, Walter Scott
Thursday, 09 April 2015 08:28 AM
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