A white South Carolina police officer was charged with the murder of an African-American man, once again reigniting the debate over the alleged excessive use of deadly force by police officers and systemic racism within local law enforcement departments. Officer Michael Slager allegedly shot and killed 50-year-old Walter Scott following a traffic stop in North Charleston; according to footage captured on video, it appears Slager shot Scott eight times as the man ran away, his back toward Slager. Now, South Carolina politicians are publicly condemning the police shooting, with Gov. Nikki Haley calling it "not acceptable."
"We have many good law enforcement officers in the field. What happened in this case is not acceptable in South Carolina, nor is it reflective of our values or of the way most of our law enforcement officials act," Haley said in a statement released to WBTV late on Tuesday.
The South Carolina governor continued:
I assure all South Carolinians that the criminal judicial process will proceed fully. This is a sad time for everyone in South Carolina, and I urge everyone to work together to help our community heal.
Other South Carolina politicians have also begun speaking out against the shooting. U.S. Sen. Tim Scott (R-S.C.) released this statement on his Facebook page and his Twitter account:
At a press conference on Tuesday, North Charleston Mayor Keith Summey also condemned the shooting and criticized Slager for acting recklessly. "As a result of that video and bad decisions made by our officer, he will be charged with murder," Summey said.
"When you’re wrong, you’re wrong," the mayor added. Summey said that no matter if you're a cop or a civilian, if you "make a bad decision ... you have to live by that decision."
Scott, a father and Coast Guard veteran, was killed on Saturday after a routine traffic stop escalated. According to the video footage, projectile trails from a Taser can be seen hanging off his body as he runs from Slager. The officer then begins shooting at Scott, firing at least eight shots. Scott falls to the ground after the last shot is fired.
Slager was charged with murder after a bystander to the shooting submitted the video as evidence. Previously, Slager said he feared for his life after Scott took his Taser from him. However, the state of South Carolina and the U.S. Department of Justice are now looking into those claims, as the video appears to tell a different story. Slager is currently being held without bail.
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