South Carolina police shooting: Walter Scott had a passenger
NORTH CHARELSON, S.C. — A passenger was in Walter Scott’s car when he was pulled over by a North Charleston police officer who then killed him, according to a police report CNN obtained.
The passenger’s identity was not given in the report, but another officer responding to the incident said in the report that the passenger was detained and placed in the back seat of a police vehicle.
Scott family spokesman Ryan Julison confirmed to CNN that a man was with Scott and said he is not related to the family. The family declined to provide any more information.
The North Charleston Police Department is not providing more information, citing an ongoing investigation of Scott’s killing that’s being conducted by the independent South Carolina Law Enforcement Division.
Many questions remain about what happened on Saturday when Officer Michael Slager pulled Scott over for what police have said was a broken taillight.
In the police report that CNN obtained, a responding officer said that Slager said that at one point he started to chase Scott down a street. “Shots fired and the subject is down,” the officer writes that Slager said. “He took my Taser.”
But a witness who shot cell phone video of the incident says he never saw Scott try to get Slager’s Taser.
Feidin Santana was walking to work when he saw Slager and Scott struggle on the ground, he told NBC’s Lester Holt on Wednesday. Santana then took out his phone and started recording video.
“I remember the police (officer) had control of the situation. He had control of Scott,” Santana said. Then, Santana said, he heard the sound of a Taser.
It seemed to Santana that Scott was trying to get away and avoid being Tasered more.
Feidin showed the video to the Scott family. The video shows Slager shooting eight times at Scott as Scott runs away.
An autopsy showed that Scott suffered multiple gunshot wounds to the back of his body.
Before the officer starts firing his gun in the video, a dark object falls behind him and hits the ground. It’s not clear whether that is the Taser.
Later in the video, when the officer approaches Scott’s body, he drops a dark object next to the man. It’s also not clear whether that is the Taser.
It’s unknown whether Scott took the officer’s Taser or whether the officer picked the object up and moved it closer to the body.
Slager has been fired and charged with murder. He is white. Scott, who was unarmed, is black.
Scott’s shooting stirred memories of the Michael Brown case in Ferguson, Missouri, where an unarmed black teenager was killed by a white police officer. A grand jury declined to indict the officer in that case. But not everyone agreed that Scott’s case is like Brown’s or that race was a factor.
Asked how he felt about Slager being charged with murder, Santana answered that “no one can feel happy.”
“He has his family, and Mr. Scott also has his family,” he told Holt. “But I think, you know, he made a bad decision. … Mr. Scott didn’t deserve this. And there were other ways that can be used to get him arrested. And that wasn’t the proper way to do that.”
The FBI is investigating, as is the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division, which is independent from the North Charleston Police Department.
SLED is reviewing videos from the dashboard cameras of responding officers.
“The shooting incident itself is not on any of the dash cam videos reviewed so far,” SLED spokesman Thom Berry said Wednesday night.
But, he noted, not all of the footage had been examined yet.
After prosecutors review the footage, he said, it will be made public.
“I have watched the video, and I was sickened by what I saw,” North Charleston police Chief Eddie Driggers told reporters Wednesday.
Mayor Keith Summey spoke at the same news conference, which was repeatedly interrupted by protesters who chanted: “No justice! No peace!” They called for the mayor to step down.
Summey said that the city has ordered an additional 150 body cameras “so every officer on the street” in the city will have one. That is in addition to 101 body cameras already ordered, he said.
Just before the conference was set to begin, demonstrators walked in. They were led by a man wearing a “Black Lives Matter” T-shirt who shouted, “This is what democracy looks like!”
It’s unclear what Slager’s motivation was, or if race played a part in Scott’s slaying.
“We can’t get into the brain of another individual, so we can’t state that,” Scott family attorney Chris Stewart said. “I think it would be irresponsible to say that and try and inflame a community or anything of that nature.”
If convicted, Slager could face life in prison or the death penalty.
An autopsy of Scott showed that he “sustained multiple gunshot wounds to the back of his body,” and his death was the result of a homicide, the Charleston County Coroner’s Office said.
Asked whether CPR was performed on Scott after Slager shot him, Driggers said: “In the end of it (the video), what I saw was (what I) believed to be a police officer removing the shirt of the individual and performing some type of life-saving (procedure), but I’m not sure what took place there.”
When Scott’s brother Anthony saw the video, he was convinced Slager’s account of what happened was not true, he told CNN.
“There was not a struggle for the Taser,” Anthony Scott said. “I didn’t believe my brother would have done that anyway.”
To Anthony Scott, the videotape shows his brother was “running for his life” away from the officer.
“I think my brother was thinking he was not going to be shot, no one would have thought that,” Scott said.
Family members have adamantly repeated that they don’t want protests over Scott’s slaying to become violent.
And, so far, the demonstrations have been passionate but peaceful.
Scott’s mother, Judy Scott, told CNN’s Anderson Cooper that she feels “forgiveness in my heart, even for the guy that shot and killed my son.”
“He was a loving son, a loving father,” she said. “He cared about his family and … no matter what happens, it will not replace my son.”