• U.S.

Critics Urge Prosecution of Second Officer in South Carolina Police Shooting

2 minute read

Outrage over the deadly police shooting in South Carolina earlier this month, in which a white officer shot and killed an unarmed black man as he ran away, has prompted new calls for a second officer—who is black and who arrived to the scene shortly after the shooting—to be prosecuted.

A video of the April 4 shooting and immediate aftermath that was filmed by a bystander shows North Charleston officer Clarence Habersham requesting a medical kit and inspecting the wounds of Walter Scott, 50, as he lay on the ground after being shot multiple times by officer Michael Slager, who is white. Slager is charged with murder; Habersham did not fire any bullets.

After the incident, the New York Times reports, Habersham filed a brief report that stated he “attempted to render aid to the victim by applying pressure to the gunshot wounds” and helped to carry out emergency response efforts by giving others directions to the location of the shooting.

Critics claim that Habersham did not include certain information in his report, specifically about Slager. The footage appears to show Slager, after shooting Scott, going back to retrieve an object from the ground that is suspected to be a Taser and then tossing it next to Scott’s body.

On Friday, the National Bar Association issued a statement that accused Habersham of “an attempted cover up” in the Scott case. The legal group is seeking Habersham’s arrest and indictment, claiming the officer “made false statements” to several North Charleston officers and “deliberately left facts out of his report.”

“In his report, Officer Habersham does not describe Officer Slager’s actions, but said that he gave aid to Mr. Scott and tried to give directions to the scene,” the group said. “However, there is no evidence on the video that show Officer Habersham, or anyone else, administered CPR to Mr. Scott.”

And on Sunday, one day after Scott was buried, the Rev. Al Sharpton spoke about Habersham to the Times. “Given what I’ve seen, he certainly should be held accountable,” he said. “What charge, I don’t know. But certainly he should not walk away without facing some accountability in the criminal justice system.”


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