The mayor and police chief of North Charleston, South Carolina, held a press conference Wednesday afternoon to discuss details surrounding a deadly police shooting that occurred over the weekend.
Officer Michael Slager, 33, was denied bond Tuesday night after being charged for murder in the shooting of Walter Scott, 50, who he initially stopped for a traffic violation on Saturday, local WYFF News reported.
Mayor Keith Summey during the press conference said he would deny interviews to national media until after the burial.
“I’m not going to make this a political forum,” Summey said.
The mayor said in the coming days, the city will look at police policies and work to strengthen community relations, citing police presence in every South Carolina school as an example.
Some voiced concerns about the racial disparity between the 80 percent white police department serving a city made up of almost 50 percent black residents.
Summey said the police department actively seeks to recruit minority police officers and often has to look to other departments to find suitable candidates.
Protestors gathered in front of City Hall Wednesday morning and attended the afternoon press conference, stressing how the shooting reflects inherent cultural problems in the city. It starts with the lack of sufficient education for minorities, one protestor said. South Carolina schools are racially segregated, protestors said, and it’s evident if you look at honors classes in South Carolina high schools.
The high school dropout rate among black students in Charleston County schools is typically higher than any other group, according to data front that school district.
The graphic video shot by a bystander shows Scott running from the officer and then being shot eight times from behind at a distance of about 20 feet. Slager claims Scott was attempting to grab his stun gun and then tried to flee after being shot with the device. An object can be seen falling near the two men, but it’s unclear which of them dropped it.
Slager then walks toward Scott while speaking into his radio and yells at him to put his hands behind his back, the video shows. After handcuffing Scott, Slager can be seen walking back to retrieve the object and then walking toward Scott and dropping an object next to him.
Both the mayor and police Chief Eddie Driggers said they haven’t seen all the video released and that along with footage from the bystander’s cell phone, investigators are looking at video from the dash camera in Slager’s patrol car.
The investigation has been turned over to the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division, who could not be immediately reached for comment, but it released a statement saying Slager would be prosecuted by the 9th Circuit Solicitor’s Office. The state prosecutor’s office also could not be reached for comment.
Chief Driggers said that no other officer witnessed the shooting and that “We’re going to strive to do what’s right.”
Slager was immediately terminated from the police department following the shooting, Driggers said.
When asked why none of the officers can be seen in the video administering CPR, Driggers said he was “sickened” by what he saw, but that he thought he could see an officer removing Scott’s shirt to do so.
Driggers said that department procedures were “obviously not” followed in the officer-involved shooting, but Slager’s attorney believes the policeman did everything by the book.
“This is a very tragic event for all of the families,” attorney David Aylor said. “I believe once the community hears all the facts of this shooting, they’ll have a better understanding of the circumstances surrounding this investigation. Officer Slager believes he followed all the proper procedures and policies of the North Charleston Police Department.”