The South Carolina police officer who was captured on video shooting and killing an apparently unarmed black man as he ran away has been fired from his job, the North Charleston mayor said at a press conference Wednesday, while also announcing the city’s purchase of more than 250 body cameras for officers in response to the incident.
“We don’t condone wrong, it doesn’t matter who it is,” said Mayor Keith Summey.
Officer Michael Slager, 33, fired eight shots at Walter Scott, 50, on Saturday in a confrontation that has drawn condemnation across the United States. Slager was charged with murder Tuesday after a video shot by a bystander emerged showing the shooting.
The incident was immediately compared to other cases of alleged police brutality against unarmed black men, including the shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Mo. and the choking of Eric Garner in New York City. But in contrast to the Brown and Garner cases, officials in North Charleston acted quickly to bring charges against the officer after Scott’s death. Local officials immediately handed the investigation over to the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division, then decided to fire and charge Slager.
“We’re going to strive to do what’s right,” said North Charleston police chief Eddie Driggers. “I have been praying for peace, peace for the family and peace for this community.”
While Anthony Scott, Walter Scott’s brother, was glad to see authorities arrest Slager, he told TIME he worries that it never would have happened without the graphic video capturing the shooting. Police initially told him that his brother had died in a struggle with a police officer over a Taser, which turned out not to be the full story, he said.
“I doubted the story because I know that that’s not his character to be confrontational like that with the police,” Anthony Scott said of his brother, a father of four whom he described as “well-liked in the community.” “He would rather leave or run than to be confrontational with the police.”
Anthony Scott first saw the video—which showed bullets hitting Walter Scott in the back as he fled from Slager—when the bystander who recorded it showed it to him at a vigil after the shooting.
“I was angry. Shocked,” Anthony Scott said. “And knew that we had to have it.”
“The video tells the truth,” Scott added, saying he does not believe Slager would have been charged with murder so quickly—or perhaps at all—without the video as evidence.
“My hope is [the video] will change the way that officers conduct themselves across the country, not just here,” Scott said. “Body cams would be an excellent idea, which would hold them accountable.”
The announcement of the more than 250 body camera purchases in North Charleston drew applause from onlookers at Wednesday’s press conference, but the event quickly grew contentious when Summey, the mayor, declined to answer certain questions. Local residents and activists in the audience shouted “no justice, no peace” and other angry phrases directed at the officials.
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