There was a passenger riding in the car when Walter Scott was pulled over by Officer Michael Slager, who shot and killed the unarmed black man moments later as he fled.
That passenger, Pierre Fulton, broke his silence Monday, reported The Post and Courier, more than a week after video of the shooting was released -- resulting in first-degree murder charges for the North Charleston, South Carolina, police officer.
“Walter was a dear friend, and I miss him every day,” Fulton said in a statement released through his attorney. “Over the past five years, he helped me to become a better man and showed me the value of hard work. I’ll never know why he ran, but I know he didn’t deserve to die. Please keep Walter and his family in your prayers and respect my privacy moving forward.”
Fulton was riding April 4 with the 50-year-old Scott on April 4 when Slager pulled them over.
Scott fled on foot during the traffic stop, and Slager chased after him before firing eight shots from behind.
Fulton was briefly detained during the traffic stop but not charged.
He spoke Friday with investigators and publicly revealed his identity with the statement released late Monday.
A legal expert and former police officer told The Post and Courier that Slager should have stayed with the vehicle instead of pursuing Scott.
“This is a matter of police practice, not a legal issue,” said Seth Stoughton, an assistant professor at the University of South Carolina School of Law. “Legally, there’s nothing wrong with an officer chasing a fleeing driver and leaving the passenger. It’s just not a great idea in most cases.”
Stoughton said officers could probably find out where the driver had fled and why if they remained with the vehicle and interviewed the passenger, and he said police should properly secure any evidence in the car instead of pursuing a fleeing driver.
A spokesman for the state’s criminal justice academy said “there is no hard and fast rule” on foot pursuits, saying officers are given discretion in each case.