Family Of Black S.C. Man Killed by White Officer Plans Federal Suit Against Police

Protesters light candles outside the North Charleston, S.C., City Hall on April 8, 2015. (Photo: Jim Watson, AFP/Getty Images)
Protesters light candles outside the North Charleston, S.C., City Hall on April 8, 2015.
(Photo: Jim Watson, AFP/Getty Images)

The family of Walter Scott, the unarmed 50-year-old black man fatally shot by a North Charleston, S.C., police officer, plans to file a federal suit against the police department, according to their attorney.

Attorney Chris Stewart tells The Post and Courier that Scott’s civil rights were violated when Patrolman 1st Class Michael T. Slager shot him in the back following a traffic stop on Saturday morning.

Stewart tells the newspaper that he does not know whether there will be a racial component to the wrongful death suit until the investigation of the case is complete.

Slager was arrested and charged with murder after a videotape of the shooting, taken by a bystander, surfaced.

That video showed Slager, who is white, shooting a fleeing black suspect in the back multiple times. Scott died at the scene.

Thom Berry, spokesman for the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division, which has taken over the investigation, told USA TODAY that none of the cameras mounted on any of the police vehicles that responded to the scene captured the dramatic moments recorded by a passerby with his cellphone.

Berry said he did not know how much if any of the confrontation that led to the shooting was recorded on Slager’s dash cam. Berry said his department will release the video as soon as prosecutors grant approval.

“I have been told that none of the (dashboard) cameras have the incident itself,” Berry said, adding that he has not seen the video. “Most of it will be driving to the scene, parking the vehicles.”

Berry said officials are reviewing “potentially hours of video,” because video from all the cars that responded is being reviewed.

The man who recorded the shooting with his cellphone is speaking out, saying he shared the video with the victim’s family after seeing that a police report conflicted with what he saw.

“I would say life changed in a matter of seconds. I never thought this would happen, that I would be a witness,” Feidin Santana said Thursday on NBC’s Today. “I’m still scared.”

Santana, 23, said he knew Slager saw him.

“I recorded the video so that maybe he can feel that someone is there,” he said. “There were just the three of us in that moment. I couldn’t tell what was going to happen, so I just wanted him to know that he’s not by himself.”

Slager, 33, was charged with murder Tuesday. He previously had been allowed to stay on the force despite a complaint in 2013 that he used excessive force against an unarmed man. Mario Givens, speaking at a press conference with his lawyer Thursday, said he filed a formal complaint against Slager. Despite the support of two witnesses, Givens said police took no action.

Givens said he will file a lawsuit.

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SOURCE: USA Today – John Bacon

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