Thursday, April 9, 2015

SLED awaiting approval to release Walter Scott dash cam footage

Eyewitness comes forward, NCPD releases Slager’s records

Posted by Paul Bowers on Thu, Apr 9, 2015 at 7:50 AM

click to enlarge Michael T. Slager - COURTESY OF CHARLESTON COUNTY SHERIFF'S OFFICE
  • Courtesy of Charleston County Sheriff's Office
  • Michael T. Slager

The S.C. Law Enforcement Division (SLED) has dashboard camera footage from Saturday's encounter between Walter Scott and North Charleston Police Officer Michael T. Slager, and a spokesman says he hopes to release the footage "soon."

SLED spokesman Thom Berry wrote in an email Wednesday night: "The dash cam video will be released once we obtain approval from the prosecutors in the case. Hope to have it soon; just can't say when."

Slager has been charged with murder in the case of Scott's death after a video shot by a bystander showed Slager shooting at Scott eight times as he ran away in an empty lot near Remount Road. Slager initially said through a lawyer that he shot Scott because the deceased had tried to take the officer's Taser.

Here's the latest on the case:

• The eyewitness who filmed the video of the shooting came forward. In an interview with NBC News Wednesday night, Feidin Santana said he was walking to work when he saw Scott being chased by a police officer. "They were down on the floor before I started recording," Santana said. "I remember the police had control of the situation, he had control of Scott, and Scott was trying just to get away from the Taser." Watch the video here.

• The City of North Charleston released Officer Michael T. Slager's employment records. Click here to read them.

• The New York Times is reporting that Slager's wife is eight months pregnant and the City of North Charleston will continue to cover her health insurance.

• According to NCPD spokesman Spencer Pryor, the current racial demographics of the city's police force are 79 percent white, 21 percent black/Hispanic. He has not yet responded to a request for the separate percentages of black and Hispanic officers. For comparison, the city of North Charleston is 42 percent white, 47 percent black, and 11 percent Hispanic or Latino, according to the most recent Census data from 2010.

click to enlarge A protester stands outside City Hall beside an art piece created by Phillip Hyman during a protest action Wednesday. - PAUL BOWERS
  • Paul Bowers
  • A protester stands outside City Hall beside an art piece created by Phillip Hyman during a protest action Wednesday.

• S.C. Democratic Party Chair Jaime Harrison issued a statement in which he called Scott's death "tragic and entirely unnecessary," called for an end to the "lingering distrust" between law enforcement officers and African Americans, and proposed a few policy changes: "We need more dialogue and community forums to strengthen relationships between law enforcement and communities of color. We need to enact legislation that improves law enforcement training and oversight, as well as provide body cameras for law enforcement officials so as to accurately record and reflect tense interactions. We need law enforcement officials to begin to identify those within their ranks that have had issues and problems dealing with diverse communities and assist them with counseling or relieve them of their duties." Two bills relating to police body cameras are currently in committee in the state House of Representatives, both introduced by Charleston lawmaker Wendell Gilliard. Read more about those bills here.

• Ninth Circuit Solicitor Scarlett Wilson issued a statement about the case, saying in part: "Shortly after the incident Mayor Keith Summey and Police Chief Edward Driggers, though not required by law, wisely chose to immediately request that the case be independently investigated by the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division (SLED). As in any case, SLED has briefed me continually throughout the investigation and we have met on multiple occasions. I have advised them on many of the legal aspects of the investigation and the charges. We remain united in our approach to this investigation and prosecution."

• Attorney General Alan Wilson, speaking at a League of Women Voters event in Beaufort County, gave the following statement: "This is a very difficult and emotional time for our state. I have already spoken with [SLED] Chief Mark Keel and Solicitor Scarlett Wilson on this matter and I am very confident that the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division will conduct a very thorough and fair investigation and that Solicitor Wilson's office will uphold the rule of law. Our office is always available to assist if we are needed."

• A vigil was held in Scott's memory outside of North Charleston City Hall Wednesday night.

• The Charleston branch of the NAACP will hold a press conference outside its office at 81 Columbus St. today at 11 a.m. about "the need for further vigilance and accountability with regard to racial profiling by law enforcement agencies in the Greater Charleston area," according to a press release.


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