8 Apr 2015

Walter Scott shooting: America reacts to another death

American civil rights activists say it was “lucky” that the shooting of Walter Scott was filmed and encourage citizens to record incidents of police brutality.

White police officer Michael Slager was charged with the murder of 50-year-old Walter Lamer Scott, after a shooting on Saturday morning.

Officer Slager had said that Scott had taken his stun gun from him, but his account of the incident appeared to be contradicted by a video released last night. Walter Scott’s father said that his son’s shooting would have been “swept under the rug, like they did with many others” had the video not been released.

“When I saw it, I fell to my feet and my heart was broken,” Walter Scott Sr. told NBC’s Today programme.

“The way he [Slager] was shooting that gun, it looked like he was trying to kill a deer…I don’t know whether it was racial, or it was something wrong with his head.”

South Carolina Senator Tim Scott, an African-American and a Republican, called the video “horrific” and “deeply troubling”.

Read more: White US officer charged with murder after black man's death

“It is clear the killing of Walter Scott was unnecessary and avoidable, and my prayers are with the Scott family as they go through this ordeal. We must come together as a community, as a state, and as a nation in working to bring our communities together and rebuild trust.”

Attorney David Aylor said he would no longer be representing Officer Michael Slater.

On Sunday, Aylor had said that “once the community hears all the facts of this shooting, they’ll have a better understanding of the circumstances surrounding this investigation.”

In a statement issued this morning, Aylor said: “Today, I withdrew my representation of Michael Slager. This is a terrible tragedy that has impacted our community.”

Larry Fellows III, an activist from the protests in Ferguson over the past eight months told Channel 4 News that the video was “excruciating to watch”.

“Law enforcement has a history of years and decades of situations like this. This is not new. The situation has changed because now there’s video proof,” he said.

Mr Fellows thinks that a lack of accountability is to blame for cases of police violence.

“Cops are not being reprimanded for their actions. They’re not punished. There’s no jail time, they usually get paid leave. It’s like a reward for them in some ways for these types of actions.

“I’ve always been an advocate if you see something wrong that is happening, record it. When you see people being harassed, don’t just walk by, record it.

“I honestly hope Walter Scott and his family get the justice they deserve. It’s weird to say that they were so lucky someone was recording.

“I hope that this leads to a change, but it’s sad that it’s happened. A broken tail light should not lead to a murder.”

The national association for the advancement of coloured people, America’s largest and oldest civil rights organisation, praised the person who filmed the shooting for releasing it to the public.

“I cannot underscore enough how important it is for persons who witness alleged crimes to give an account of what they saw,” said NAACP President Dr Lonnie Randolph Jr.