by Paul Bowers
A protest following the shooting death of Walter L. Scott has been planned for Wednesday at 9:30 a.m. at North Charleston City Hall.
Scott, 50, was shot by North Charleston Police Department Patrolman Michael Thomas Slager Saturday following a traffic stop near Remount and Craig roads for a broken taillight. Slager originally stated through an attorney that he had shot Scott after Scott took his Taser during a struggle. But a video taken by a bystander showed Slager firing his gun eight times as Scott ran away.
The State Law Enforcement Division, which investigates all officer-involved shootings, announced earlier Tuesday that it had arrested Slager on a charge of murder. In an affidavit Tuesday, a SLED agent wrote the following:
On April 4, 2015, the defendant Michael Thomas Slager, while in the area of Craig Road within the city of North Charleston, County of Charleston, SC, knowingly and unlwafully with malice aforethought did kill the victim, Walter Lamer Scott. To wit: the Defendant did shoot the victim multiple times in the back after an altercation. All this is true based upon video evidence and the investigation of the State Law Enforcement Division.
Brandon Fish, a member of Black Lives Matter-Charleston, says the group has not yet prepared a statement about the protest planned for Wednesday morning. On a personal note, he said, "I think that this is just another example of a problem that we have in our community, and we need to take a hard look at the way police officers are hired and advanced and deployed and disciplined, and also the systems of accountability in general."
Pastor Thomas Dixon, an activist who plans to attend the event, says that until the eyewitness video surfaced, the officer's story was the only one getting told. "Had this video not been shot and surfaced, they were setting up a case that would ultimately have let that officer off the hook," Dixon says. "It would have been the same outcome we've seen time and time again."
Victoria Middleton, executive director of the ACLU of South Carolina, issued the following statement about the incident: "We need to look at department policies and training and examine whether racial profiling and excessive use of force are part of the culture."
In response to the shooting, North Charleston visual artist Phillip Hyman painted an angel in a hoodie Monday and propped it up near the site of the shooting. He says a nearby business owner asked him to take it down, but first he took a few pictures. One of the images is now the banner picture for the protest event's Facebook page.
"It's been my life to express myself this way, and these things bother me," Hyman says. "So that's how i get them out of my system, is I do a painting and go take a picture outside at the street that it happened."
The following video of the shooting was posted to the Post and Courier's Vimeo page after the newspaper broke the story about the recording Tuesday: