NORTH CHARLESTON, SC (WCIV) — Mayor Keith Summey said today that the North Charleston police officer who shot a man during a traffic stop Saturday morning will be charged with murder after eyewitness video surfaced that appears to show the officer firing shots at 50-year-old Walter Scott as he ran away.
Officer Michael Slager has been taken into custody and charged with murder by the State Law Enforcement Division.
North Charleston Police Chief Eddie Driggers, breaking down into tears, called it a tragic day.
“You know, I think all of these officers on the force, men and woman, are like my children. So you tell me how a father would react to his child doing something like this.”
Summey said the city’s heart goes out to the victim’s family and that the city will take responsibility for one officer’s “bad decision.” He said he couldn’t speculate what would have happened had the video not surfaced.
The press conference came hours after eyewitness video of the shooting was released to SLED agents and multiple news outlets.
Summey thanked the man who recorded it. He said it helped them resolve the issue.
Slager initially said through his attorney that he believed he followed policies and procedures when he shot Scott Saturday morning. The attorney, David Aylor, announced at 5 p.m. — minutes before the press conference — that he no longer represents Slager.
The shooting happened about 9:30 a.m. Saturday when Slager told investigators he pulled over Walter Scott for a broken tail light at the corner of Remount and Craig roads.
According to an incident report, officers hearing Slager say over the radio that he had deployed his Taser and “seconds later” he said “Shots fired and the subject is down. He took my Taser.”
The graphic video shows a tussle between Slager and Scott and then Scott running away as Slager fired eight shots.
“The video is very demonstrative of exactly what happened,” Summey said. “That was the only witness there was. Without the video it would be difficult to ascertain what did occur.”