NORTH CHARLESTON, SC (WCSC) - The unnamed person who came forward with video of the fatal shooting of Walter Scott by a North Charleston police officer is being hailed a "hero" by the victim's family, and thousands on social media.
Scott, a 50-year-old unarmed black man, was shot and killed by Patrolman First Class Michael Slager, 33, following a traffic stop Saturday morning in North Charleston. Claiming he feared for his life, Slager told investigators he shot Scott following an altercation during which Scott allegedly stole his Taser and attempted to use it against the officer.
A video filmed by a witness just moments before the fatal shots were fired contradicted Slager's account of the shooting, and resulted in the officer being charged with murder, North Charleston Police Chief Eddie Driggers announced Tuesday.
"What if there was no video. What if there was no witness, or hero as I call him, to come forward?" Chris Stewart, an attorney for the Scott family, asked Tuesday night during a press conference. "There was a witness that came forward with a video, and the initial reports were wrong."
The video, which begins after the alleged altercation, shows Slager and Scott within arms reach of one another as something is dropped to the ground. As soon as the item is dropped, Scott turns from the North Charleston police officer and is seen running away.
Slager immediately pulls out his service pistol and fires eight shots at the back of the 50-year-old man, with Scott falling to the ground face first after the final shot, the video shows.
The witness video captures Slager then walking towards Scott, yelling at him to put his hands behind his back, and putting handcuffs on the fatally injured man.
Stewart said it is because of this rare video that justice could be served.
"That doesn't happen all the time across this country. It doesn't happen if you're African American. It doesn't happen if you're Caucasian," Stewart said. "If things happen when nobody is watching, would we be here today, or would it have just been another victim?"
Video of the fatal shooting went viral across social media Tuesday evening, with Twitter and Facebook users expressing their outrage over the truth while praising the witness who came forward.
"Seriously, whoever shot that #WalterScott video is a national hero. That's some for real bravery right there. They just keep recording," tweeted @GregAkers.
"The guy behind the camera deserves some kind of award. Exposing the truth at the risk of his life. Now that's a hero. #WalterScott," tweeted @Writer_Lana.
On Twitter, #WalterScott was the top trending hashtag in the United States Tuesday night, with #RIPWalterScott hitting the top US trends Wednesday morning. "North Charleston, South Carolina" is still trending on Facebook after first appearing early Tuesday evening.