NORTH CHARLESTON, South Carolina (AP) — A white former police officer was indicted on a murder charge Monday in the fatal shooting of an unarmed black man who was running away from the officer after a traffic stop in South Carolina.
The shooting April 4 was captured on video by a bystander and showed North Charleston officer Michael Slager firing eight times as 50-year-old Walter Scott ran away. The shooting rekindled a national debate about the treatment of black suspects at the hands of white officers.
Slager was charged with murder by state law enforcement agents almost immediately after the video surfaced. Prosecutor Scarlett Wilson announced the indictment. No trial date has been set.
Screen capture of the video that surfaced shortly after the incident showing the shooting of Walter Scott.
Wilson said earlier the death penalty does not seem to apply because there were no aggravating circumstances such as robbery or kidnapping as required under South Carolina law.
The 33-year-old Slager faces 30 years to life in prison if convicted. He has been jailed without bond since his arrest.
Slager told authorities that he fired his Taser at Scott as he ran, but the stun gun didn't work. Then during a scuffle over the weapon, Slager said, he shot Scott with his handgun in self-defense. The video appeared to show the men briefly scuffling in a vacant lot, but it also shows Scott clearly running away when the officer starts firing his handgun.
Family members have said Scott may have started running after the traffic stop because he was fearful of returning to jail over about $18,000 he owed in late child-support payments.
In South Carolina, prosecutors have sought felony charges against Slager and two other officers in the past year for shooting at unarmed black men following traffic stops. Two of the men were killed, while a third was seriously injured.
None of the cases has gone to trial.
A lawyer for the Scott family says they plan to file a wrongful death lawsuit against the city of North Charleston. Attorney Chris Stewart's announcement came moments after a prosecutor announced the indictment Monday.
Walter Scott's brother Rodney Scott says the family is "very happy and pleased" with the indictment.
The shooting April 4 was captured on video by a bystander and showed Slager firing eight times as Scott ran away after a traffic stop.
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