On Tuesday, the mayor of North Charleston, S.C., announced that a white police officer would be charged with murder in the shooting of a Black man, who was apparently unarmed. The incident took place on Saturday, and a graphic video of the killing, which was provided to the New York Times, shows the officer shoot the man in the back as he runs from the officer.
According to reports, the shooting occurred after police officer Michael T. Slager stopped 50-year-old Walter L. Scott for a broken taillight. The New York Times states that Scott fled and was chased by Officer Slager to a nearby lot. Scott was reportedly tased, but continued to flee from the officer. Eight shots were fired by Officer Slager at Scott's back as he ran.
The officer claims that Scott had tried to take his stun gun, and he feared for his life. "Shots fired and the subject is down," the officer said, according to reports. "He took my Taser." The video is slightly at odds with this description.
The video (below) begins when the two men are in the grassy lot. The scene unfolds with what appears to be Scott being tasered by Officer Slager. An unidentified object falls to the ground and then Officer Slager draws his weapon. He shoots eight times, and on the last shot, Scott falls. The video also shows Officer Slager bring what appears, but is not confirmed, to be the Taser over to Scott's body.
This shooting happened at a time when officer-related killings of Black men by white officers -- in Ferguson, Mo., New York, Los Angeles, and Cleveland -- have sparked protest and opened a discussion about racism and police brutality. President Barack Obama asked Attorney General Eric Holder to delve into police and community relations across the country. The initial report was released last month.
North Charleston has a population of 100,000 and is the third-largest city in South Carolina. The city's population is 47 percent Black and 37 percent white; the police force is 80 percent white.
The state of South Carolina is investigating the incident. The Justice Department will also be looking into the shooting. Warning: the below video is graphic: