Officer Charged With Killing Walter Scott Once Accused of Excessive Force

2015-04-08T230302Z_1_LYNXMPEB3714E_RTROPTP_4_USA-SOUTH-CAROLINA-SHOOTING
North Charleston police officer Michael Slager, right, is seen allegedly shooting 50-year-old Walter Scott in the back as he runs away, in this still image from video in North Charleston, S.C., April 4, 2015. Reuters

The South Carolina police officer charged with shooting and killing Walter Scott, 50, an unarmed black man, in North Charleston last weekend, was previously the focus of an excessive force complaint involving another unarmed African-American man more than a year ago.

As the Associated Press reported on Thursday, Mario Givens accused the officer, Michael Slager, 33, of tasing him inside his North Charleston residence in September 2013.

Givens, now 33, woke up that morning, he said, to the sound of Slager banging on his door. The officer, Givens told the Associated Press, wanted to enter his home, but didn't say why. Slager threatened to use his stun gun on Givens if he didn't open the door, then pushed his way inside. "I didn't want that to happen to me, so I raised my arms over my head, and when I did, he tased me in my stomach anyway," Givens told the wire service. He was wearing only boxer shorts and a T-shirt at the time.

Givens' mother, Bessie, 57, says she saw the incident. "It was very devastating," she told the Associated Press. "You watch your son like that, he's so vulnerable. You don't know what's going to happen. I was so scared."

After Slager tased him, Givens says another officer entered the house and dragged him outside onto the lawn, handcuffed him and put him in the back of the police car. The authorities later released Givens without charges, after initially accusing him of resisting arrest.

The officers, according to the Associated Press, had been looking for Givens' brother, Matthew, whose girlfriend, Maleah Kiara Brown, had called the police after finding him in her bedroom, uninvited. Brown told the Associated Press Mario Givens did not fit the description of his brother she gave to police; Mario Givens is 6 feet tall, while his brother is 5'5".

The following day, Mario Givens filed a formal complaint to the police, but the officers allegedly refused to take statements from neighbors who contacted the authorities and said they saw what happened. In a police report seen by the Associated Press, Slager said he was concerned that Givens had a weapon, adding he could not see his hands or feet. Slager said he entered the home to stop Givens from fleeing.

The police opened an investigation into the incident, but after several weeks, closed the case and exonerated Slager. Givens told the Associated Press that the authorities didn't contact him as they reviewed what happened.

"They never told me how they reached the conclusion. Never. They never contacted anyone from that night. No one from the neighborhood," Givens told the Associated Press

On Thursday, the North Charleston Police Department said they planned to review the case.

The news came a day after the police department fired Slager following the release of a video showing him shooting Scott in the back eight times as the unarmed man fled.

"I have watched the video. And I was sickened by what I saw," said Eddie Driggers, the North Charleston police chief. "And I have not watched it since."

As state authorities continue to investigate Scott's death with the help of the Justice Department and the FBI, Slager remains behind bars at the Charleston County Detention Center.

On Wednesday, North Charleston Mayor Keith Summey said the city will continue to pay for health insurance for Slager's wife, who is eight months pregnant, until after the baby is born.

Officer Charged With Killing Walter Scott Once Accused of Excessive Force | U.S.