North Charleston has reached a $6.5 million settlement with the family of an unarmed man who was shot to death earlier this year by a city police officer, in a case that got worldwide attention after a bystander’s cell phone video of the incident went viral.
The city council approved the settlement Thursday for Walter Scott’s surviving family. The unanimous vote came after meeting behind closed doors.
The 50-year-old Scott was shot by North Charleston officer Michael Slager back in April. A bystander’s cell phone video showed Slager firing at Scott’s back while the other man fled from a struggle. Slager had pulled over Scott for a broken taillight, but Scott ran down a side street during the stop. The video showed Slager had been struggling to detain Scott shortly before the other man broke away and started running through a vacant lot. The video then shows Slager firing eight times at Scott as he tried to flee.
“While nothing can replace having Walter in our lives, the city of North Charleston’s historic actions ensure that he did not die in vain,” Scott’s brother Anthony Scott told local media. “This city sent a message, loud and clear, that this kind of reckless behavior exhibited by members of law enforcement will not and shall not be tolerated.”
North Charleston Mayor Keith Summey said he was pleased the settlement avoids a lawsuit. “Immediately after the release of the video, the family took steps to keep the community calm, and for that the city is thankful,” Summey said in an emailed statement. “This is a very difficult period for the Scott family. I know they are glad to have this part behind them so their healing process can continue. As a result of this tragedy, important issues have been discussed, not only in North Charleston, but around the country.”
Slager is awaiting trial in the case. He was indicted on a murder charge back in June and a judge refused to set bond last month.