Criminal Justice

Officer is charged with murder after shooting video surfaces

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A police officer in North Charleston, South Carolina, has been charged with murder after a video showed him shooting a man in the back as he ran away.

The 33-year-old officer, Michael Slager, shot 50-year-old Walter Scott after a traffic stop for a broken tail light on Saturday, report the New York Times and the Charleston Post and Courier.

Slager had fired his Taser at Scott after the traffic stop, but it did not take down Scott, police say. The video, provided to the New York Times and the Post and Courier, apparently shows Taser wires extending from Scott’s body during a “tussle” between Scott and Slager, the Times says. An object knocked to the ground could be the Taser. Scott then begins to run, and Slager draws his gun and fires eight times. Scott drops to the ground.

Slager then goes back to the site of the scuffle, picks up an item and drops it near Scott. He later reported that Scott had taken his Taser.

Scott was wanted on a warrant issued by the family court and had a history of arrests on contempt charges related to failure to pay child support, according to the Post and Courier.

Slager is white and Scott was black. Eighteen percent of the officers with the North Charleston police department are black; the city’s population is 45 percent black, the Post and Courier reported in September.

Chris Stewart, a lawyer for Scott’s family, said Tuesday night that the incident is bigger than race, Reuters reports.

“It goes to power itself. This was a cop who felt like he could just get away with shooting someone that many times in the back,” Stewart said. “It speaks to the value of human life.”

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