The mother of the South Carolina police officer who fatally shot an apparently unarmed black man on Saturday spoke out in a new interview Thursday about the incident that has jumpstarted the national conversation about race and community-police relations.
Karen Sharpe tells ABC News that she hasn’t watched the video filmed by a bystander that depicts her son, North Charleston police officer Michael Slager, firing eight shots in the direction of Walter Scott before he falls to the ground and dies.
“I’ve purposely not watched it. I’ve purposely not tried to hear people’s comments about it,” she says. “I can’t watch it. I can’t read the papers. I just can’t. Maybe to some people that’s, ‘Well, you’re being in denial.’ But I’m sorry, I just can’t,” she adds, before wiping a tear away. “I know how Michael is and I just can’t imagine that this would ever—I don’t know what is portrayed of him because I haven’t listened to anything. But he’s a very good person.”
The interview came around the same time that the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division released footage from the officer’s patrol car that showed the traffic stop before the fatal shooting. That video shows Scott, 50, being pulled over for a broken rear tail light and then questioned about his car insurance. When the officer presumably returns to his patrol car, Scott is seen fleeing from the Mercedes, setting off a foot race that would end in his death.
Slager, 33, has been fired from the police department and charged with murder.
“He loved being a police officer,” Sharpe says of her son. “I can’t imagine him doing something that … that’s just not like him, it’s not in his character. It’s not.”
Sharpe says that she has kept the Scott family in her thoughts since Saturday. “Even though they’re not the same things that have happened, I know there’s changes in both their family and my family that’ll never be the same again. And that’s the part that bothers me, that they’ve changed forever.”
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