CHARLESTON, SC (WCSC) - The family of Walter Scott said Wednesday they are grateful the federal government indicted the former North Charleston Police officer accused in Scott's shooting death.
Anthony Scott, the brother of Walter, called the day "bittersweet" moments after Michael Slager was arraigned on three new federal charges.
"It's a great day that the Justice Department decided to come on board and to give us further justice," he said. "But still, it's just a bitter reminder of that video in which Walter was running away and being gunned down."
Scott referred to a cell phone video that came to light days after the April 4, 2015 shooting that called into question Slager's initial account of the shooting.
"We believe that we were only seeking justice from the beginning for my brother because the story never lined up and never sounded correct," Scott said. "And I'm so glad that other people saw the same thing that we did. But if wasn't for a video camera that day, if it wasn't for someone brave to stand up and videotape this officer doing this injustice to this young man, would we even be here today? I say no."
He said it was imperative that body cameras are implemented in police departments across America.
Scott's mother, Judy, said it was time the cover of what really happened during the traffic stop that ended in Scott's fatal shooting was pulled away.
"I'm happy for that, but I'm sad that my son is gone and I'll never see him again," she said. "But I pray that other mothers don't have to go through what I've been going through. I miss him very, very much. He was never a violent person. He was a very lovable child, loved his parents, loved his family, loved his children. But I thank God to see what has happened here today. I thank God for justice, and I claim it and stand on the Word. Justice will prevail."
"If you want to know what civil rights history looks like, take a look at today. This is historic," Scott family attorney Chris Stewart said. "It should not be taken lightly. What happened today is the federal government said, 'It stops now. Police brutality stops now.'"
Stewart described Slager's indictment as a message not to the good officers who protect people, but to "the ones that abuse people in this country."
"Because we've learned today that the federal government, the Justice Department can step in and put somebody behind bars when their day of trial comes," Stewart said. "So take this as a time of change. Walter Scott did not die in vain."
Stewart said the family is "very proud" of the government because of the actions.
"It just makes us proud, proud to know that officers out there who break the law don't have to worry just about local district attorneys. They have to worry about federal justice."
Rep. Justin Bamberg, who is also representing the Scott family, said the federal government stepped in just four percent of the time between 1995 and 2015 involving cases of alleged police misconduct.
"Today is a happy day because Walter Scott, Officer Slager, they joined that four percent," Bamberg said. "We will continue to pursue justice as we have from day one, we will continue to pursue change."
Slager was arraigned Wednesday afternoon on the new charges a day after he was indicted by a federal grand jury.
The judge did not set a federal bond, deciding instead to rely on the bond already set in the state case with two additional conditions: Slager will now be forced to wear a GPS device while under house arrest and had to hand over his passport.
"He already has the bond, he's under house arrest, he was forced to surrender his passport today, he's not going to escape justice in this situation," Scott family attorney Chris Stewart said.