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NORTH CHARLESTON, S.C. (AP) — A white former North Charleston police officer was indicted on a murder charge Monday in the fatal shooting of an unarmed black man who was running away from the officer after a traffic stop.

The shooting April 4 was captured on video by a bystander and showed officer Michael Slager firing eight times as 50-year-old Walter Scott ran away. The shooting rekindled an ongoing national debate about the treatment of black suspects at the hands of white officers.

Slager was charged with murder by state law enforcement agents almost immediately after the video surfaced. Prosecutor Scarlett Wilson announced the indictment.

“The jury will make up its own mind after it sees the video and hears the other testimony,” Wilson said of Slager’s trial.

No trial date has been set.

Wilson said the state law enforcement agents had the video and could have shown it to the grand jury, but she is not sure if they did. In South Carolina, the investigating agency typically presents the case to a grand jury, not the prosecutor.

Wilson said earlier the death penalty does not seem to apply because there were no aggravating circumstances such as robbery or kidnapping as required under South Carolina law.

The 33-year-old Slager faces 30 years to life in prison if convicted. He has been jailed without bond since his arrest.

Slager told authorities that he fired his Taser at Scott as he ran, but the stun gun didn’t work. Then during a scuffle over the weapon, Slager said, he shot Scott with his handgun in self-defense. The video appeared to show the men briefly scuffling in a vacant lot, but it also shows Scott clearly running away when the officer starts firing his handgun.

Family members have said Scott may have started running after the traffic stop because he was fearful of returning to jail over about $18,000 he owed in late child-support payments.

As word of the shooting spread, many feared police would close the case without taking any action against the officer. But days later, the video shot by a man walking to work surfaced, and Slager was arrested, easing tensions in the community.

The cellphone video added fuel to the national debate about race and aggressive police tactics that intensified in August with the shooting death of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri. In that case, there was no video of the shooting and Officer Darren Wilson was not indicted.

In Baltimore, six officers were indicted in the death of Freddie Gray, who was critically injured during an arrest there and later died at a hospital.

In South Carolina, prosecutors have sought felony charges against Slager and two other officers in the past year for shooting at unarmed black men following traffic stops. Two of the men were killed, while a third was seriously injured.

None of the cases has gone to trial.

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16 thoughts on “Ex-SC Officer Indicted for Murder in Shooting of Black Man

  1. ambientbake on said:

    This officer was wrong and should be punished. It does NOT however detract from the other 99.5% of good cops out there. God Bless the cops and pizz on the criminal thugs.

  2. Indicted not convicted. I’m not holding my breath either. It’s sad that we’re killing our own youth, but it’s just as sad as the so called protect and serve are really only interested in protecting their own ( white ppl). I’ve been saying cops and some GOP congressional legislators replaced hoods with suits and ties. Disgraceful

    • reflections on said:

      Cop Smashes Man’s Window Pulls Him from the Car for Refusing to Show Driver’s License
      By Mike Sawyer on June 8, 2015

      Addison, Tx – An Addison police officer used extreme force when he smashed a man’s window during a routine traffic stop.

      Scott Richardson recorded the cop, who pulled him over for speeding in early May. He refused to show his driver’s license, citing a court decision that ruled that speeding in and of itself is not a criminal act. The video of the incident was posted with the description:

      “Addison Cop violating my rights when I refused to SUBMIT to his bogus claims. Brown v Texas – Officers CAN NOT demand a person to self-identify unless the cops has seen them in a commission of a Felony. I was just going from point A to B… this is at 9:30 am on a Saturday morning going to work…”

      Read more at http://thefreethoughtproject.com/cop-smashes-drivers-window-refusing-show-drivers-license/#2640YGPPV3e8bdDv.99

  3. This indictment is exactly what should have happened. Stay strong Ms. Scott, and hopefully his conviction and life long incarceration will bring you some small measure of peace.

  4. specialt757 on said:

    I have come to the conclusion that blacks will never be treated fairly in America. We are the ones that ALWAYS have to “comply” with all the laws, the written ones and the ones made up in someone’s mind. I’ve seen videos where white guys actually fight and kick the police officer’s ass and all they get is arrested and charged like the justice system allows. But if we even look like we are going to stand up for ourselves we get brutalized and cold blooded murdered.
    We always tell our children “just do what they say so you can live to see another day” That’s so unfortunately. Again and for the record, I don’t feel victimized as an individual but as a whole group or race, I’m included. I know how to fight battles without being physical and actually win the majority. So resisting arrest would not be something I would do. To challenge cops in anyway is signing your death sentence ESPECIALLY and specifically if you’re black.
    Whites in America will never see blacks as anywhere close to being equal to them, and that’s no matter how much money you have, ask Donald Sterlin. In their eyes we are just a bunch of n-words. If you can’t see that from the vast amount of videos showcasing this mentality then you have on blinders.

  5. Mary on said:

    why aren’t you people yelling about all the black on black killing stop focusing on just one thing, white police don’t kill as many young black men as young black men killing off themselves. focus on that for a minute!

  6. Mary on said:

    Why aren’t you people crying out about all the black on black killings? I am sure there are more of them then there is of white police killing young black men. I would be madder than hell at that then this……just sayin

  7. Also, Mrknowitall:

    Police brutality is nothing new. The difference now is they are being caught on camera/videos. Also, were it not for the police having weapons, they would be getting a taste of their own medicine; but if course “cowards” do not fight fairly.

  8. Mrknowitall:

    Why don’t you read the story about the white rioters who bombed Tulsa, Oklahoma, “The Black Wall Street,” and “Rosewood, Florida” the story of how the “jealous white savages” destroyed these communities.

  9. Timothy Williams on said:

    Racism is alive and well in America and young black men are being targeted by white officers cause if a black officer shoots a white teen or white person they definetely getting indicted, convicted, and the death penalty.

  10. Mrknowitall on said:

    If the black guy took responsibility and cooperated he would be alive. Now the police officer has to take his responsibility.

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