Walter Lamar Scott, a black man shot in the back by a white police patrolman, was borne to his grave Saturday inside a flag-draped coffin escorted by motorcycle police from that same officer’s North Charleston Police Department.
In an emotional memorial service at a church crammed with 500 mourners, no one mentioned the name of Patrolman 1st Class Michael T. Slager, charged with murder in Scott’s killing a week earlier. But the pastor who led the impassioned service condemned “the act of racism and hatred in that officer’s heart.”
“There is no doubt in my mind that Walter’s death was motivated by racial prejudice,” the Rev. Dr. George D. Hamilton told mourners. “You have got to hate somebody to shoot them in the back. This hate came because Walter was an African American.”
The pastor’s words brought some mourners to their feet. There were cries of “Right! Right!” and “Amen!”’
The service crystallized simmering resentment in the black community of North Charleston, S.C., which is 47% African American, since Scott was shot April 4 as he ran from Slager after a traffic stop. Residents said the type of petty offense for which Scott was stopped — a broken brake light — symbolized persistent racial profiling of blacks pulled over for years for minor or nonexistent violations.
Slager, 33, whose wife is eight months pregnant, on Saturday was at a county prison, a few miles from the church. The eight shots he fired at Scott’s back figured prominently in the service.
Hamilton called the shooting “a hideous crime” compounded, he said, when Slager handcuffed the dying man instead of trying to save his life.
“Why would a cop handcuff a dead man anyhow?” he asked, drawing shouts of approval from the mourners.
Source: The LA Times | DAVID ZUCCHINO