The video is stunning. A black man appears to be shown running away from a South Carolina police officer when he is fatally shot in the back. What’s even more difficult to believe is that the officer, Michael Slager, not only reported that the man, Walter Scott, tried to steal his Taser but the video appears to show Slager placing his stun gun alongside the man as he lay dying.
Now the bystander who recorded the video is speaking out, saying that at no point did Scott ever reach for the officer’s Taser and, in fact, the officer used the weapon on Scott, who was struggling trying to get away.
“Before I started recording, they were down on the floor. I remember the police [officer] had control of the situation,” said Feidin Santana who told NBC Nightly News that he was on his way to work when the incident occurred. “He had control of Scott. And Scott was trying just to get away from the Taser. But like I said, he never used the Taser against the cop.”
“As you can see in the video, the police officer just shot him in the back,” Santana said. “I knew right away, I had something on my hands.”
On Tuesday, authorities arrested Slager, 33, charged him with murder for the “fatal shooting of Walter Scott, 50, after a traffic stop in North Charleston Saturday,” NBC News reports.
Santana told the news station that he gave the video to Scott’s family so that they would know the truth.
“They were very emotional when that happened, including me also,” he said. “I thought about his position, their situation … If I were to have a family member that would happen [to], I would like to know the truth,” Santana said.
In an interview on MSNBC’s All In With Chris Hayes later Wednesday, Santana added that he thought about just erasing the video.
“I won’t deny that I knew the magnitude of this, and I even thought about erasing the video,” Santana said. “I felt that my life, with this information, might be in danger. I thought about erasing the video and just getting out of the community, you know Charleston, and living some place else.”
Santana doesn’t see himself as a hero and believes that while both families lose in this situation, decisions still come with consequences.
“It’s not something that no one can feel happy about. He has his family, Mr. Scott also has his family,” Santana said. “But I think, you know, he [the officer] made a bad decision, and you pay for your decisions in this life.”
“Mr. Scott didn’t deserve this, and there were other ways that can be used to get him arrested, and that wasn’t the proper way to do that.”
On Wednesday, North Charleston Mayor Keith Summey announced that Slager was fired and noted that he ordered body cameras for the police force, NBC News reports.
Slager was denied bond and is being held at the Charleston County Jail, according to the news station.