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Monday, February 26, 2024 | Back issues
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Officers Recall Shooting of SC Motorist

(CN) - Two police officers who responded to the scene of the fatal shooting of an unarmed black motorist by one of their colleagues said they were both told the victim posed a threat to the man who killed him.

Testifying at the murder trial of former North Charleston Police Officer Michael Slager, police Sgt. James Gann and Lt. Daniel Bowman said Walter Scott was face down and unresponsive when they arrived at the modest park where the shooting took place on April 4, 2015.

Slager pulled over the 50-year-old Scott for a busted tail light. Scott ran from the scene and proceeded into a modest park not far away.

Gann and Bowman said they hurried to the scene after Slager radioed he was pursuing Scott on foot.

Gann said he immediately saw that Scott had suffered bullet wounds, and that he performed CPR on the prone man until emergency medical personnel arrived.

Scott never regained consciousness.

Gann said Slager told him he and Scott had gotten into a scuffled, and that during it, the motorist got hold of the officer's Taser.

According to Gann, Slager said Scott stood and pointed the Taser at him, and that he pulled his gun to protect himself.

Gann said his understanding was that Scott and Slager were "fairly close together" at the time.

"Within 3 or 4 feet," he said.

Bowman said Slager told him a similar account, and that based on what he was told, he believed the shooting occurred at close range.

On cross-examination, Bowman testified that Slager appeared disheveled and had dust and dirt on his uniform after the shooting.

"There's no question" he had been in a fight, Bowman said.

But a cellphone video by a passerby that was shown to the jury last week appears to contradict at least some of this account. In it, Scott can be seen running with his back to the Slager. By the time Scott was hit and fell from the gunshots, he was several feet if not a yards from the officer.

Slager fired a total of eight shots at Scott, five of which hit their mark.

Slager faces 30 years to life in prison if convicted in Scott's death.

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