State police have released dashboard camera footage from a traffic stop that eventually led to a North Charleston police officer shooting and killing 50-year-old Walter Scott as he tried to get away.
The actual shooting occurred about 300 yards away and is not caught on the police cruiser’s camera. But it was recorded by a passerby in cell phone camera footage that has since gone viral and led to the officer’s arrest on murder charges.
The video released by the State Law Enforcement Division on Thursday lasts for about four minutes. It begins as Patrolman 1st Class Michael Slager pulls behind a black Mercedes sedan. The sedan, driven by Scott, pulls into the parking lot of an auto parts store on the corner of Remount and Craig roads.
Slager gets out and approaches the driver’s window. He asks for license and registration and tells Scott that the reason for the stop is that “your third brake light’s out.” Scott provides his license, but then says he does not have registration or insurance because he is in the process of buying the car from a neighbor.
About a minute after the officer returns to his cruiser to run the license, Scott briefly steps out of his door and Slager tells him, “You’ve got to stay in the car.” Another 20 seconds goes by without incident until Scott opens his door runs down Craig Street out of screen. The officer can be heard following him, with his mic still recording as he notifies dispatch.
Slager can be heard yelling “Taser! Taser! Taser!” after about 25 seconds. After another 30 seconds, Slager yells “Get on the ground! Get on the ground now!” Nothing is audible on the mic after that.
The video also reveals a passenger was in the car with Scott at the time, which had not previously been made public. That second individual’s identity has not been revealed at this time, although North Charleston Police said the individual was detained after the shooting. The Scott family attorney L. Chris Stewart told WCIV-TV that he does not know who the individual was.
A listener alerted South Carolina Radio Network that state traffic laws only require one working brake light. Specifically, SC Code Section 56-5-4370 requires “a stop lamp on the rear which shall emit a red or yellow light and which shall be actuated upon application of the service (foot) brake and which may but need not be incorporated with a tail lamp; and plainly visible and understandable from a distance of one hundred feet to the rear both during normal sunlight and at nighttime.”
However, it also requires, “When a vehicle is equipped with a stop lamp or other signal lamps, such lamp or lamps shall at all times be maintained in good working condition.”