North Charleston Mayor R. Keith Summey said Wednesday that the South Carolina city will provide all of its police officers with body cameras following the death of an unarmed black man at the hands of a white cop who has since been charged with murder and fired from the police force. Summey said the city will investigate other allegations of questionable conduct by Michael Slager, the fired officer.
Meanwhile, the city will continue to cover health insurance for Slager’s wife, who is eight months pregnant, until the baby is born, Summey said during a press conference. Summey and North Charleston Police Chief Eddie Driggers said they met with the family of Walter Scott, the 50-year-old black man who was shot in the back and killed by Slager as he was running away from the officer following a traffic stop for a broken taillight on Saturday.
“We let them know how we felt about their loss and how bad it was,” Summey said. “We do not condone wrong. It doesn’t matter who it is. … This has been a horrible tragedy for our community. There have been two families that have been harmed greatly by what occurred.”
Summey, who is white, was first elected as mayor of North Charleston in 1994, according to the city's website. His office said he has "become widely known as a consensus builder among local leaders," and said his top priority is "upgrading the quality of life of the citizens of North Charleston." He recently won re-election against a black candidate.
Summey said state legislators provided a grant so the city could receive body cameras and that North Charleston already ordered 150 devices “so that every officer that’s on the street in uniform will have a body camera.”
Driggers didn’t comment on anything related to the murder investigation since it is being handled by the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division, an independent state agency. But when asked whether Slager had followed police procedures, he replied, “obviously not.”
Protesters who attended the news conference were angered that Driggers wasn’t able to speak and chanted, “We Want Driggers” to answer questions. Before Summey took questions for the press they chanted, “No Justice, No Peace.”
North Charleston is 50 percent black but the police force is 80 percent white. Summey said part of the problem is there are a “very limited number” of “certified minority police officers” who can work for the department to the point where the city has tried to recruit black cops from other departments.