Michael T. Slager, a 33-year-old police officer in North Charleston, South Carolina, was charged with murder Tuesday in connection with the shooting death last Saturday of black motorist Walter Scott. Slager was arrested after a video of the confrontation showed he shot Scott multiple times in the back.
The altercation occurred Saturday after Scott fled his vehicle during a routine traffic stop to address a broken taillight. Slager told authorities who investigated the shooting he feared for his life because Scott grabbed his stun gun, but video obtained by several outlets showed Slager shot an apparently unarmed Scott in the back. North Carolina’s State Law Enforcement Division announced Tuesday that Slager was booked on a murder charge.
“When you’re wrong, you’re wrong,” North Charleston Mayor Keith Summey said at a Tuesday press conference, according to the Charleston Post and Courier. “When you make a bad decision, don’t care if you’re behind the shield or a citizen on the street, you have to live with that decision.”
After he shot Scott, Slager approached the spot where he fell and appeared to drop an object near his body. Several outlets, including the New York Times, said the object may have been the stun gun that Slager said Scott had tried to take.
Attorney David Aylor, who represented Slager after the shooting and released a statement on his behalf earlier this week, said Tuesday he will no longer represent the officer. “I’m no longer involved in form or fashion,” he told the Guardian.
Scott died at the scene of the shooting, though authorities did not immediately say how many times he was shot. There was a warrant for his arrest at the time of the incident, and Scott had been arrested on several occasions for failure to pay child support.
The encounter came after the fatal shooting of unarmed black teenager Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, last August and the choking death of Eric Garner in New York City last July prompted months of protests against police violence. The U.S. Department of Justice ultimately conducted an investigation into Ferguson’s police department.