South Carolina Police Fire Officer Charged with Killing Walter Scott

2015-04-08T170629Z_2020140335_GF10000052805_RTRMADP_3_USA-SOUTH-CAROLINA-SHOOTING
Muhiydin Moye D'Baha of the Black Lives Matter movement leads the protest at a rally in North Charleston on April 8. According to video evidence, the officer, Michael Thomas Slager, shot Scott in the back on Saturday. Randall Hill/Reuters

The police officer charged with shooting and killing an unarmed black man in South Carolina has been fired, North Charleston officials said on Wednesday.

The announcement came a day after the officer, Michael Thomas Slager, 33, was charged with the murder of Walter Scott, 50, the unarmed man.

A graphic video obtained by The New York Times and taken by a bystander through a chain-link fence, shows Slager, who is white, shooting Scott eight times as he sprinted away from the officer through a grassy area behind a muffler shop. As Scott ran, two objects fell to the ground. Neither Slager nor the other officer on the scene, who is black, appeared to perform CPR on Scott. He died from multiple gunshot wounds, leaving behind four children and a fiancee, the Associated Press reports.

"I have watched the video. And I was sickened by what I saw," Eddie Driggers, the police chief in North Charleston, said during a press conference on Wednesday. "And I have not watched it since."

The incident began on Saturday when Slager pulled Scott over for a broken taillight. After Scott stepped out of the car, a Mercedes-Benz, he attempted to flee the scene. The officer fired his stun gun in an attempt to stop him, according to the police reports. Slager said he later shot Scott because he feared for his life after the man allegedly tried to grab his Taser.

Earlier on Wednesday, protesters rallied in North Charleston, holding up signs saying, "The Whole World Is Watching" and "Back Turned, Don't Shoot," an allusion to the "Hands Up, Don't Shoot" slogan popularized after a white police officer shot and killed an unarmed black teenager named Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, last summer.

The recent deaths of unarmed black men, including Brown, at the hands of police officers, have sparked a national dialogue about police brutality and race. In a report published last month, the Justice Department said Brown wasn't apparently running away when he was killed. But the report did find systematic racism and use of force in the Ferguson Police Department against African-Americans.

At the press conference, North Charleston Mayor Keith Summey said the police in his city have received a grant for 101 body cameras for police officers, and ordered an additional 150 devices, "so that every officer that's on the street in uniform will have a body camera." As the mayor spoke, protesters chanted "no justice, no peace" and "the mayor's gotta go."

North Charleston's police department is 80 percent white. The city is 47 percent African-American and 37 percent white. Addressing questions about the racial makeup of the city's police force, Summey said the department does recruit African-Americans, but that there are a limited number of applicants.

The mayor said on Wednesday that he and his wife, along with the police chief, visited Scott's family. They also said the city will provide a full police escort for Scott's funeral. "When you're wrong, you're wrong," Summey said during a news conference on Tuesday evening. "And if you make a bad decision, don't care if you're behind the shield or just a citizen on the street, you have to live by that decision."

The North Charleston police department has handed the investigation into Scott's death over to the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division, an independent state agency. The Justice Department and FBI will assist with the case as well, the Los Angeles Times reports.

As the investigation continues, the authorities have sent Slager to the Charleston County Detention Center. The city of North Charleston will continue to pay for health insurance for his wife who is 8 months pregnant, until the baby is born, according to Summey.