This story has been updated.
Update, 3 p.m. EDT: Attorneys representing Walter Scott’s family held a press conference after his funeral to discuss the aftermath of his death.
“The epidemic of powerless people being taken advantage of no matter what color or belief system you have needs to stop,” said Chris Stewart, chief counsel for the family. He added: “We’re not going to let it boil down to a racial issue. It’s a human issue.”
Justin Bamberg, another lawyer representing the family, acknowledged Scott had outstanding child-support payments due at the time of his death, but called for reform in the system. “We’re not trying to downplay the issue of paying child support,” he said. “The system presents problems for some people. At the time he was arrested, he lost his job. When you’re in jail, you have a difficult time paying child-support payments.”
Original Story Appears Below
Walter Scott, 50, a South Carolina resident whose death has become a new focal point in the debate over police use of excessive force, was remembered at a funeral and memorial service Saturday. Scott, a black man, was shot multiple times in the back by Michael Slager, 33, a white police officer, April 4.
Scott’s family members were among those in attendance at the service. The hearse carrying the deceased’s body was given a police escort to the WORD Ministries Christian Center in Summerville, South Carolina, by the city of North Charleston -- the city that fired officer Slager, who was charged with murder after video emerged of him shooting at Scott eight times. The city wanted to give Scott’s family “the utmost respect and the respect that the gentleman who is deceased deserves,” North Charleston Mayor Keith Summey told USA Today.
While hundreds were in attendance, Summey chose not to attend the funeral to avoid creating a distraction, according to the Post and Courier. However, he is expected to attend a Sunday memorial service in North Charleston, where the Rev. Al Sharpton will speak.
â€” Will Whitson WIS (@WillWhitsonWIS) April 11, 2015
However, U.S. Sen. Tim Scott, R-S.C., did attend the service, according to his verified Twitter account. Gov. Nikki Haley appointed Scott in 2013 to replace Sen. Jim DeMint, who resigned, and the state’s voters elected him in 2014 to serve the final two years of DeMint’s term. (The two Scotts are not believed to be related.)
— Tim Scott (@SenatorTimScott) April 11, 2015
The events leading to Walter Scott’s death began when he was pulled over by Slager while driving a black Mercedes-Benz with an allegedly broken taillight. While dashboard-camera footage showed a mostly uneventful encounter initially, Scott was seen in it a few minutes later running from his car. Footage captured by a bystander later emerged, showing Slager fatally shooting Scott as he fled.
While it’s unclear why Scott fled, it may have been because he believed there was a warrant for his arrest, due to his owing $18,000 in child support, according to NBC News.
“I believe he didn’t want to go to jail again,” Walter Scott Sr. told NBC’s “Today” show. “He just ran away.”
Scott is survived by his parents, two brothers and four children.