The white police officer who fatally shot a fleeing black man in the US city of North Charleston has been fired after he was charged with murder, the mayor said Wednesday.
Speaking at a highly charged press conference frequently interrupted by residents angered at America’s latest high-profile police killing of a black man, Mayor Keith Summey said the city had moved quickly to fire the officer after Saturday’s shooting.
“I will also let you know that the officer … was terminated. … He is no longer here,” he said, vowing to speed the introduction of body cameras to be worn by police to record alleged abuses.
In Washington, White House spokesman Josh Earnest said he had not spoken to President Barack Obama about the case, but that video footage of the shooting was “awfully hard to watch.”
“It’s an example of how body cameras worn by police officers could have a positive impact in terms of build and trust between law enforcement officers and the communities they serve,” he said.
The officer, 33-year-old Michael Slager, has been charged with murder after he was filmed shooting Walter Scott, 50, repeatedly in the back after a scuffle that began with a traffic stop for a broken tail light.
An unidentified passer-by recorded the chilling incident, in which Scott is seen being shot as he tried to run from Slager, then is handcuffed as he lay fatally wounded.
Slager was charged with murder on Tuesday, and could face a sentence of up to life in prison or the death penalty.
A group of protesters stood outside city hall and briefly blocked traffic Wednesday morning, chanting and holding signs with slogans such as: “Stop racist police terror.”
Protesters in the press conference yelled, “No justice, no peace,” as Summey struggled to keep order. The mayor announced that the police department would buy more than 100 body cameras for officers to wear in the future.
Scott’s father, also named Walter, said the family was devastated by his son’s death, but was grateful for the video evidence.
“The way he was shooting that gun, it looked like he was trying to kill a deer or something running through the woods. I don’t know whether it was racial or something wrong with his head or what,” the father told NBC’s Today Show.