A white South Carolina police officer was charged with murder Tuesday in the weekend shooting death of a black motorist after a traffic stop.
City Patrolman Michael Thomas Slager was arrested and charged after law enforcement officials saw a video of the shooting following a Saturday traffic stop, North Charleston Mayor Keith Summey told a hastily called news conference.
Authorities say the victim, 50-year-old Walter Lamer Scott of Charleston, was shot after the officer already hit him with a stun gun. A video of the shooting released to news media outlets shows the officer firing several times at the man's back while he's running away.
Summey said at a news conference that Slager made a "bad decision."
"When you're wrong, you're wrong," Summey said. "When you make a bad decision, don't care if you're behind the shield or a citizen on the street, you have to live with that decision."
Slager's attorney had released a statement Monday saying the officer felt threatened and that the motorist was trying to grab the officer's stun gun. The attorney told The Post and Courier of Charleston on Tuesday that he no longer represents the officer.
North Charleston Police said Slager was arrested by officers of the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division.
The shooting occurred as heightened scrutiny is being placed on police officer shootings, particularly those that involve white officers and unarmed black suspects. A grand jury declined to indict Ferguson, Missouri, officer Darren Wilson in the fatal shooting of Michael Brown last August, leading to nationwide protests.
In a separate case in South Carolina, a white police officer who shot a 68-year-old black man to death last year in his driveway was charged Tuesday with a felony: discharging a gun into an occupied vehicle. A prosecutor previously tried to indict North Augusta officer Justin Craven on a manslaughter charge in the February 2014 death of Ernest Satterwhite. But a grand jury instead chose misconduct in office, which is a far lesser charge.
Craven chased Satterwhite for 9 miles beyond city limits to the man's driveway in Edgefield County. After Satterwhite parked, the officer repeatedly fired through the driver-side door, prosecutors said. The 25-year-old officer faces up to 10 years in prison if convicted of the gun charge.
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