Did race play role in police shooting of Walter Scott?

Posted at 9:40 AM, Apr 08, 2015
and last updated 2015-04-08 11:02:46-04

Warning: This article contains graphic video of the South Carolina shooting.

Did race play a role in the death of Walter Scott?

That's the question Americans are asking today following a murder charge against North Charleston, South Carolina police Officer Michael Slager. The charge came after a video was released showing Slager shooting Scott in the back numerous times after he ran on foot from Slager during a traffic stop.

Here's what authorities said happened:
° Slager pulled Scott over Saturday, April 4, 2015 for a broken tail light.
° A witness recorded the incident, of which there were multiple witnesses, who said Scott was outside of the vehicle and did run from the officer.
° The officer said Scott took his stun gun. That happened just before Slager shot him, which is believed to be as many as eight times.
° Scott, 50, died as a result of his injuries in the shooting.

The FBI is investigating the incident, which some are suggesting is a case of racial profiling, as Slager is white and Scott is black.

North Charleston's mayor and a South Carolina senator commented Tuesday calling the incident wrong and senseless.

"When you're wrong, you're wrong. And if you make a bad decision -- don't care if you're behind the shield or just a citizen on the street — you have to live by that decision," Mayor Keith Summey said.

U.S. Sen. Tim Scott tweeted this: "After watching the video, the senseless shooting and taking of #WalterScott's life was absolutely unnecessary and avoidable."


Whether Scott's civil rights were violated will be considered by the Justice Department.

The police officer is in jail and was denied bond on Tuesday, according to reports. An attorney who represented Slager in comments to media over the weekend said just before a press conference that he no longer represents him, and it is not clear if the officer has a new attorney.

Scott's shooting follows a time of civil unrest in the town of Ferguson, Missouri, where a black man named Michael Brown was shot and killed by a white police officer, Darren Wilson. The Justice Department cleared Wilson of wrongdoing.

The shooting spurred violent riots and racial tension in Ferguson. The public reaction led President Barack Obama to ask Attorney General Eric Holder to create the Task Force on 21st Century Policing to increase trust between communities and law enforcement officials.