South Carolina police officer Michael Slager was fired on Wednesday for fatally wounding Walter Scott, a 50-year-old African-American man, in a disturbing shooting that was recorded by a bystander. North Charleston Police Chief Eddie Driggers and Mayor Keith Summey confirmed Slager's termination at a Wednesday afternoon press conference. Slager, a five-year veteran of the police force, is being held without bail on murder charges. Driggers added that Slager's wife is currently eight month pregnant, and will continue receiving medical benefits until she gives birth.
Driggers told reporters that he was "sickened" when he watched the video of the shooting, which was submitted by a witness and has since gone viral. "I was sickened by what I saw," Driggers said. "And I have not watched it since."
The shooting occurred on Saturday after Scott was allegedly pulled over in a routine traffic stop. Slager has said that a scuffle ensued, causing Scott to take his stun gun. Slager reportedly told his superiors that he feared for his life, which is why he fired at Scott.
However, the raw video footage that has emerged online shows a different train of events. In the video, it appears that Scott was hit with the stun gun, as projectile trails can be seen hanging off his body. As the video starts, Scott can be seen running away from Slager. The young police officer is seen swiftly pulling out his gun and firing at least eight shots at Scott's back. Scott falls to the ground as the last shot rings out.
When asked if CPR was done on Scott following the shooting, Driggers said it appears from the video footage that an officer performed "some type of life-saving [procedure]" on the 50-year-old. However, Driggers is not sure what medical steps were taken. "I'm not sure what took place there," the police chief said.
Mayor Keith Summey said on Wednesday that the Scott family is "suffering," and asked those gathered at the news conference to pray for the family. "We let them [the Scott family] know how we felt about their loss and how bad it was," Summey said. "We do not condone wrong; it doesn't matter who it is."
Members of the grieving Scott family appeared on the Today show on Wednesday, including Scott's father, Walter Scott, Sr. “It would have never come to light [without the video footage]," Scott Sr. said. "They would have swept it under the rug, like they did with many others."
According to local reports, protesters filed into Wednesday afternoon's news conference, donning "Black Lives Matter" T-shirts and signs and chanting, "no justice, no peace." At one point, Driggers threatened to end the news conference due to the protest chants. Outside, rallies continued in North Charleston and other nearby towns.