What the Video Shows in Cop Killing of SC Black Man

It's not clear whether Walter Scott really grabbed officer's Taser
By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 8, 2015 7:11 AM CDT
Updated Apr 8, 2015 7:25 AM CDT

A white South Carolina cop stands accused of murdering an unarmed black man: What exactly does video of the Saturday incident show?

  • Before the video begins: Officer Michael Slager, 33, says he pulled Walter Scott, 50, over because Scott's Mercedes-Benz had a broken taillight. Slager says Scott fled and that he gave chase; they reportedly ended up in a vacant grassy lot next to a muffler shop, where Slager fired his Taser at Scott.
  • Discrepancies: This is the point at which the video, which the New York Times and the Post and Courier have seen, picks up. It was shot by a bystander and appears to show the wires from the Taser, which carry the electrical current, attached to Scott as he tussles with Slager and then turns to run, with the wires still apparently attached to his clothing. Slager, however, claims Scott took his Taser and that's why the officer shot him.

  • The critical moment: Before Scott runs, the video shows something either getting knocked to the ground or thrown to the ground near where the men fought; it could be the Taser, but it's not clear, according to the Times. The P&C notes that "several objects" fall to the ground as Scott "slaps" at Slager's hands. Moments later, with Scott 15 or 20 feet away from the officer and still running, the video shows Slager shooting at him. After the eighth shot, Scott falls.
  • An unexplained detail: After yelling at Scott to "put your hands behind your back" and cuffing him, Slager can be seen running back to the spot where they fought, grabbing something from the ground, and then dropping that object near Scott's body.
  • The aftermath: Though the police reports claim officers "desperately" attempted CPR on Scott until paramedics arrived, in the video it's clear that Scott remained facedown on the ground for "several minutes," hands cuffed behind his back, before anyone attended to him at all; the first two officers to arrive on the scene after Slager are not shown doing CPR for the two and a half minutes between the shooting and the end of the video.
  • The critical question: The P&C reaches this bottom line: "Through the entire footage, it's not clear whether Scott ever had control of the Taser."
Ultimately, a lawyer for Scott's family says, five of the eight bullets hit Scott: three in his back, one in his buttocks, and one in his ear. One of those bullets entered his heart. As for why Scott fled, the lawyer explains that he simply knew he was wanted for unpaid child support and didn't want to go to jail. "He doesn't have some type of big violent past or arrest record," the lawyer says (most of Scott's 10 arrests related to child support or failure to appear in court, though there was one assault and battery charge in 1987). "He had a job; he was engaged." (More police shooting stories.)

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