Officer Charged With Murder After Shocking Video Documents Shooting of Unarmed Black Man

A bystander filmed the officer firing eight times as the man fled.

A white South Carolina police officer has been charged with murder after video surfaced showing him shooting a fleeing, unarmed black man. The New York Times published the video Tuesday; it appears to show Officer Michael T. Slager of the North Charleston, South Carolina, police department, scuffling with Walter L. Scott after a traffic stop. Scott is seen turning to run away; Slager then appears to fire eight shots, and Scott falls to the ground.

Slager told police Scott stole his Taser, according to the Times. In the video, what looks like Slager’s Taser falls to the ground and Slager appears to place it next to Scott’s body.

North Charleston is a town of about 100,000, nearly half of whom are black. The city’s police department is 80 percent white, according to the Times. The Times quotes the town’s mayor on the decision to charge Slager with murder:

“When you’re wrong, you’re wrong,” Mayor Keith Summey said about the shooting during the news conference. “When you make a bad decision, don’t care if you’re behind the shield or a citizen on the street, you have to live with that decision.”

As Mother Jones reported in August, it’s hard to know exactly how common this type of shooting is. What we do know is that police are rarely charged with crimes in such cases.

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DEMOCRACY DOES NOT EXIST...

without free and fair elections, a vigorous free press, and engaged citizens to reclaim power from those who abuse it.

In this election year unlike any other—against a backdrop of a pandemic, an economic crisis, racial reckoning, and so much daily crazy—Mother Jones' journalism is driven by one simple question: Will America will move closer to, or further from, justice and equity in the years to come?

If you're able to, please join us in this mission with a donation today. Our reporting right now is focused on voting rights and election security, corruption, disinformation, racial and gender equity, and the climate crisis. We can’t do it without the support of readers like you, and we need to give it everything we've got between now and November. Thank you.

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