Coroner: Walter Scott died from multiple gunshot wounds to the back
NORTH CHARLESTON, SC (WCSC) - The Charleston County Coroner's Office announced Walter Scott died as a result of multiple gunshot wounds to the back, and ruled his death a homicide.
Coroner Rae Wooten said an autopsy was performed Sunday on the 50-year-old, one day after police say Scott was shot while running from a North Charleston police officer. The autopsy findings were discussed with the attorneys representing the Scott family, Wooten said.
North Charleston Patrolman First Class Michael Slager, 33, has been charged with murder in connection with the Saturday morning shooting death of Scott. City officials say Slager has since been fired from the department.
That announcement of Slager's arrest came at a press conference late Tuesday afternoon from North Charleston Mayor Keith Summey who referred to a video someone recorded of the shooting Saturday morning.
The video had been sent to Scott's family and the South Carolina State Law Enforcement Division, Summey said. The video appears to show Scott running away from Slager, then Slager firing eight rounds at Scott.
"As a result of that video and bad decisions made by our officer, he will be charged with murder," Summey said.
"It's been a tragic day," North Charleston Police Chief Eddie Driggers said.
Summey called the video "very demonstrative" and said without the video, it would have been difficult to resolve the issue. Summey said the city is trying to meet with Scott's family and will reach out to them any way they can.
Driggers said city leaders have been in contact with the family's pastor and have been "an open book" with investigators.
Summey said Scott was hit with the officer's Taser weapon, and they know that, Summey said, because one of the Taser projectiles was still attached.
"We would hope the community leaders in this community would rise up and quell" any backlash resulting from the announcement, Driggers said.
A South Carolina Law Enforcement Division document states Slager was booked at the Charleston County Detention Center, and the case will be prosecuted by the Ninth Circuit Solicitor's Office. He is being held in protective custody.
"Given the nature of this incident and like all high profile inmates, who are lodged in our facility, we keep them away from the general population, unless they request to place in general population," an NCPD spokesperson said.
Anthony described Walter as the extrovert of the family.
"He was the most outgoing out of all of us. He knew everybody. He knew family I didn't know," Anthony said. "He was an outgoing person, loving and kind. That was his nature."
Family attorney Chris Stewart said the family is planning a civil lawsuit.
“The South Carolina Office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation has opened an investigation concurrent with the S.C. Law Enforcement Division and are providing aid as necessary to the state investigation," read a statement by the Department of Justice."The Department of Justice Civil Rights Division and the South Carolina U.S. Attorney's Office will work with the FBI in the investigation. The Department of Justice will take appropriate action in light of the evidence and developments in the state case.”
“We have many good law enforcement officers in the field. What happened in this case is not acceptable in South Carolina, nor is it reflective of our values or of the way most of our law enforcement officials act, and I assure all South Carolinians that the criminal judicial process will proceed fully," said Gov. Nikki Haley in a statement."This is a sad time for everyone in South Carolina, and I urge everyone to work together to help our community heal.”
The president of the NAACP SC State Conference, Dr. Lonnie Randolph Jr. released the following statement Tuesday night:
The South Carolina NAACP would like to commend the U.S. Attorney's office, the FBI, the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division and other law enforcement personnel who assisted in bringing charges against Officer Michael T. Slager in the fatal shooting of Walter L. Scott, an unarmed citizen of North Charleston, South Carolina.
Mr. Scott, a 50-year old African American, had been initially detained during a traffic stop.
Our sympathies go out to the family of Mr. Scott who must endure the heartache that follows such a tragic event. The NAACP will remain engaged locally as members of the community attempt to process the details of this incident.
We acknowledge the brave citizen who captured the shooting incident on video then swiftly released it to the public. I cannot underscore enough how important it is for persons who witness alleged crimes to give an account of what they saw.
The rapid response by law enforcement in this matter does bring some level of comfort to the community in the hopes that the judicial process will render an adequate measure of justice for the victim. We will continue to monitor the investigation and resulting litigation as it moves through the Courts.
Scott was shot and killed by a North Charleston police officer Saturday at approximately 9:30 a.m. following an attempted traffic stop in the area of Craig Street and Remount Road.
According to NCPD reports released Monday, Slager was conducting a traffic stop of Scott's car for a malfunctioning brake light.
Reports state Scott attempted to flee, resulting in a foot pursuit. Officer Slager then deployed his Taser weapon to detain the driver but was unsuccessful, a spokesperson for the police department said.
Police say an altercation then began between Slager and Scott resulting in a fight for the officer's Taser. During the fight, Scott allegedly gained control of the Taser to use it against the officer who then fired his service weapon at the suspect.
Documents state two complaints were filed against Slager including an incident for using a taser on a suspect in 2013. Slager was cleared in that incident.
The shooting has been under investigation by SLED.
If convicted, Slager faces the death penalty or a term of 30 years to life in prison.
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