Sharpton to preach in South Carolina town where officer shot black man

Reuters News
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Posted: Apr 12, 2015 11:00 AM

By Randall Hill

NORTH CHARLESTON, S.C. (Reuters) - Civil rights leader Rev. Al Sharpton plans to deliver a sermon and attend a prayer vigil on Sunday in the South Carolina town where Walter Scott, an African-American father of four, was shot in the back while running from a white patrolman.

New York-based Sharpton has said the shooting of Scott, whose death April 4 was filmed by a bystander, validates the need for a federal oversight of policing in the United States.

Scott's shooting was one of the latest in a series of killings that have stoked a national outcry over police use of force against African Americans. Last year, the fatal shooting of an unarmed black man in Ferguson, Missouri, and choking death of a black man in New York City triggered a wave of demonstrations across the country.

Hundreds of mourners attended the funeral for Scott, 50, on Saturday in Summerville, north of North Charleston where the shooting took place. Sharpton remained in New York, where his National Action Network was wrapping up its national convention.

Sharpton is expected to preach Sunday morning at Charity Mission Baptist Church in North Charleston and attend a prayer vigil on Sunday afternoon at the site where Scott was shot.

Michael Slager, 33, the North Charleston officer who fired eight times at Scott's back as he fled from a traffic stop, has been charged with murder and dismissed from the police force.

Slager pulled Scott's black Mercedes-Benz over for a broken tail light. Video from the dashboard camera in Slager's police cruiser recorded a respectful exchange between the two men before the officer returned to his patrol car.

A few minutes later, after being told by Slager to stay in the Mercedes, the man emerged from his car and ran off. Scott, who was apparently unarmed, had a history of arrests for failing to pay child support.

A cell phone video taken by a bystander showed the men in a brief tussle before Scott ran off again, Slager fired his gun and Scott slumped into the grass. There was a gap between the two videos, however, as the officer was not wearing a body camera.

(Writing by David Bailey; editing by Susan Thomas)