NAACP calls for federal probe of NCPD

VIDEO: NAACP calls for federal probe into NCPD practices

North Charleston - The NAACP sent a letter to the U.S. Justice Department asking for a federal investigation of the North Charleston Police Department and accusations its officers target African-Americans.

The letter was written by the president and director counsel of the NAACP's Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc.
Local community leaders who signed the letter include North Charleston NAACP President Ed Bryant, Elder James Johnson with the National Action Network and State Rep. Wendell Gilliard.

They say the April 4 shooting of Walter Scott was one of several incidents in the last 20 years that show North Charleston police officers went too far.

The justice department already says it will investigate whether Scott's civil rights were abused when he was shot and killed by then-North Charleston Police Officer Michael Slager.

But now the NAACP wants the federal government to investigate the entire police department. The national office sent an eight-page letter asking for a thorough investigation into alleged discriminatory practices by North Charleston police officers.

"Some of these practices in North Charleston, they're still doing some of these illegal tactics," Johnson said.

Local community activists want the justice department to look into some cases that go back a few years in addition to the Scott shooting. They include the 2003 shooting death of Asberry Wylder outside a grocery store and the 2000 shooting death of Edward Snowden inside a video store.

"We want the Justice department to look into these incidents to see if there's a pattern," Bryant said.

"When you look at the statistics, when you look at the record of the whole history of the North Charleston Police Department, we have to do something," Gilliard said.

North Charleston Mayor Keith Summey spoke on behalf of Police Chief Eddie Driggers who reports to him. Summey believes there is no racial bias in the police department.  The mayor says it's a case of having to put more cops in the higher crime neighborhoods.

"Unfortunately in North Charleston, a majority of these communities have been minority communities and so we have to put a larger presence in those neighborhoods," Summey said.

Both the NAACP and National Action Network say the only thing that will work is a shakeup in the police department.

"I would like to see the Justice department take over the police department and run it right and put the proper people in place to run the department like it should be run," Johnson said.

Summey also said maybe some officers in his words stepped out of bounds, but he said it is the intention of the chief and the department to be fair.

A statement by the ACLU South Carolina on their website says they are joining the call to investigate the police department as well.

Copyright WCSC 2015. All Rights Reserved.