Latest on police shooting: State investigators had doubts

AP News
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Posted: Apr 09, 2015 8:55 PM
Latest on police shooting: State investigators had doubts

8:30 p.m.

The chief of the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division said Thursday evening that investigators and crime scene technicians from his agency immediately saw inconsistencies when they arrived at the scene where white North Charleston police officer Michael Slager fatally shot Walter Scott, an unarmed black resident, in the back.

"We believed early on that there was something not right about what happened in the encounter," Chief Mark Keel said. "The cellphone video shot by a bystander confirmed our initial suspicions."

SLED did not publicly raise its concerns, however, when the North Charleston police release its initial report that said Scott was shot after taking Slager's Taser.

Keel also said his agents have not yet talked to Feidin Santana, who made the video of the shooting, but that they want to. Keel also said he understood why Santana might have believed he couldn't trust the police after seeing the shooting.

"I'm grateful he decided not to erase the video. We are eager to discuss the incident with him," Keel said.

5:15 p.m.

Dash cam video shows the man fatally shot by a police officer get out of his car and then run away during a traffic stop.

The video, released Thursday by the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division, shows what begins as a seemingly routine traffic stop.

The officer, Michael Slager, approaches the green Mercedes-Benz driven by Scott and says he pulled him over because of a non-functioning taillight.

After the officer asks for license and registration, Scott can be heard saying he doesn't have registration or insurance on the vehicle because he was in the process of buying it. After a brief exchange, the officer returns to his cruiser.

Scott is seen getting out of the car and then takes off running. The officer then runs after him.

2:15 p.m.

An official from the Charleston, South Carolina, branch of the NAACP says he is not surprised by the police response to a prior allegation of excessive force against the white officer who shot a black man in the back as he fled after a traffic stop.

The complaint against Michael Slager involved Mario Givens, another black man. Givens says the officer came to his house in September 2013, pushed in the door, and hit him in the stomach with a stun gun. Givens says he was unarmed, and he filed a complaint. Slager remained on the force.

The Rev. Joseph Darby, vice president of the Charleston branch of the NAACP, says that the group has seen similar complaints throughout the years, but that they are usually taken lightly and seemed to be dismissed without much investigation.

Darby says that if the North Charleston department had done a full investigation into the 2013 incident, maybe Saturday's shooting of Walter L. Scott would have turned out differently.

Slager is charged with murder and has been fired.

The North Charleston Police Department says it will now review the complaint involving Givens again.

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2 p.m.

Dozens of people are visiting a memorial for Walter L. Scott at the scene where he was fatally shot by a police officer in North Charleston, South Carolina.

A steady stream of people drove or walked up to the memorial Thursday.

Some of the visitors knew Scott, a black man shot by a white officer. Others didn't but came to the memorial after video shot by a witness gained attention worldwide. Some placed flowers, stuffed animals, notes or other items at the scene.

Liberty Ortega was among the visitors. He says he came to show his respect.

He says it's heart-wrenching that the shooting happened in his community of North Charleston. He says incidents like that don't happen there often.

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Noon

The attorney now for the white police officer charged with murder in the slaying of an unarmed black man says he is conducting his own investigation.

Charleston defense attorney Andy Savage released a statement Thursday saying he suspects his investigation will take some time.

Savage says "it is far too early for us to be saying what we think."

Slager's original attorney, David Aylor, had released a statement after his arrest saying that the officer felt he followed all proper procedures before using deadly force.

But after the release of a video showing the officer shooting at Walter Scott eight times as Scott ran, Aylor said he no longer represented Slager.

Court records show that Slager has an initial court appearance scheduled for Aug. 21.

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11:30 a.m.

Civil rights leaders want North Charleston police to create a citizens review board to look at complaints of brutality and bad behavior by police.

NAACP leaders held a news conference Thursday after a white police officer was charged with murder after he was recorded shooting an unarmed black man in the back.

Currently, very few departments in the state use a review board, which is given the power to review police actions and determine whether officers should be punished when accused of wrongdoing.

North Charleston, like many other agencies, currently uses its own police officers to conduct internal investigations.

Dot Scott, president of the Charleston branch of NAACP, also called for more body cameras for officers.

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11 a.m.

Records show that while nearly half the residents of North Charleston are black, the majority of the city's police force is white.

Statistics provided by North Charleston police on Thursday show that of the department's 324 officers, 60 of them — or about 18 percent — are black. The department has 256 white officers accounting for about 79 percent of the force, and eight Hispanic officers accounting for nearly 3 percent.

Those figures are current as of March.

By comparison, U.S. Census statistics from 2010 show that about 47 percent of the city's 98,000 residents are black. Those figures are the most recent available.

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10:35 a.m.

Court records show that Walter L. Scott, the black man fatally shot by a white police officer in South Carolina, had had been jailed three times for failure to pay child support.

In late 2008, Scott was sent to the Charleston County Detention Center for six months for contempt of court for failing to pay about $6,800 in back child support.

In 2011, he spent a night in jail when he was $7,500 behind in child support.

And in 2012, he spent a night in jail when he owed $3,500 in back child support.

Scott's record also showed that he had received several traffic tickets.

Scott had four children.

His family and the family attorney have said Scott may have tried to run from the officer before he was shot Saturday because he owed child support and didn't want to go back to jail.

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8:30 a.m.

The man who recorded a police officer shooting a black man says he fears for his own safety since he was identified as the person who videotaped what happened.

Feidin Santana told NBC's "Today" show on Thursday that people now know where he lives and works. He says he considered staying anonymous for a time.

Santana says "lives changed in a matter of seconds" when he recorded the shooting on his way to work.

His attorney, Todd Rutherford, appeared on the show with him. Rutherford says Santana is afraid, noting the first thing he asked Thursday morning was, "How can I get protection?"

Rutherford says Santana never saw the officers perform CPR or other life-saving measures.

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8 a.m.

A prominent defense attorney is now representing Michael Slager, the white officer charged with murder after he was recorded shooting a black man as he ran away during a traffic stop.

Andy Savage is now representing Slager, according to court records. Slager had been denied bond at a brief hearing Tuesday, where he was not accompanied by a lawyer.

Savage previously represented Eddie Bullard, a 15-year North Charleston police veteran who was fired from the department after authorities said he shot his own protective vest on July 4, 2012, and then reported that someone had attacked him.

The charge was dropped after Bullard pleaded guilty to providing false information to police and was fined $159.

Savage did not immediately respond to phone and email messages on Thursday.