North Charleston, SC (WLTX) - The family of a man shot and killed by North Charleston police officer says they're pleased that murder charges have been filed in this case, but add that the process for getting justice is just beginning.
Relatives and attorneys for Walter Scott spoke at a news conference Tuesday night, just hours after charges against officer Michael Thomas Slager was booked at the Charleston County Detention Center.
"I ask that everyone continue to pray for my family." said Anthony Scott, Walter Scott's brother. "We can't get my brother back and my family is in deep mourning for that, but through the process justice has been served."
South Carolina State Law Enforcement Division agents say Slager shot Scott multiple times in the back following at traffic stop Saturday morning. Initially, Slager told investigators that Scott had struggled for his police-issued taser, and that he fired at Scott in fear of his life. But a person passing by the scene recorded a video that captures part of the incident, and sent that video to both investigators and the Scott family. That video, law enforcement says, contradicts Slager's statements.
In that recording, Scott, who appears to be unarmed, can be seen running away from the officer. Slager then draws his weapon and can be seen and heard firing multiple shots from his service weapon at the man, who drops to the ground. Slager can then be seen handcuffing Scott while the man was on the ground. After less than a minute, another officer arrives on the scene, and the two begin walking around Scott's body.
About two and a half minutes after the shooting, it appears Slager touches Scott's neck, apparently to check his pulse.
After viewing the recording and examining other evidence, agents filed the charges against Slager, with North Charleston Mayor Keith Summey calling the incident a "bad decision."
"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," Summey said.
Slager has also been fired.
"We've all seen the video," Anthony Scott said. "If there hadn't been a video, would we know the truth, or would we have just gone with what was reported earlier? But we do know the truth now."
L. Chris Stewart, one of the attorneys representing the family, said they'll likely file a civil lawsuit.
"This was a cop who felt like he could get away with just shooting someone that many times in the back," Stewart said.
Scott spent two years in the Coast Guard, had four children and was outgoing and loving, Anthony Scott said. "He was the most outgoing out of all of us," the brother said. "He was well known in the community."