We perish because we know not… #TLENews
Michael Slager, 33, was arrested by the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division and faces 30 years to life in prison or the death penalty, state officials said in a news release.
The incident occurred after Slager pulled over a car with a broken taillight around 9:30 a.m. ET. The video, which was obtained by The New York Times, picks up after the stop. Slager is seen shooting in a vacant lot at the suspect — later identified as 50-year-old Walter Scott — about eight times as he runs away.
The officer, who is white, said the suspect, who is black, took his Taser and that he feared for his life.
“Shots fired. Subject is down. He grabbed my taser,” Slager says in a call to dispatchers.
The video doesn’t show Scott taking Slager’s stun gun, but according to The Times, Slager drops an “object” near Scott after the shooting.
The Justice Department and the South Carolina Office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation is also reviewing the incident, which comes on the heels of other police-related deaths involving unarmed black males in Ferguson, Missouri, Staten Island, New York, and Cleveland.
Slager was arrested less than an hour after the video, taken by a bystander, was provided to city and police officials. At a Tuesday news conference, North Charleston Mayor Keith Summey said the decision to charge the officer came after viewing the footage.
Having to charge an officer is “not something that we like to hear or like to say but it goes to say how we work as a community: 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,” Summey said.
Slager has been with the department since 2009, officials said.
North Charleston Police Chief Eddie Driggers called the incident a “tragic day” for many, but said the shooting shouldn’t reflect on the force of 343 officers.
“It is not reflective of the entire police department and the city of North Charleston,” Driggers said. “One does not totally throw a blanket across the many, and I think that’s true in life, so it is a tragic event.”