The decision to charge the officer, coming after a tense year of protests and demonstrations over excessive police violence, was announced by the city’s mayor and chief of police at a news conference Tuesday afternoon. Authorities said the decision to charge Michael Slager, the officer, was made after they viewed video footage of the incident that showed him shooting the other man in the back as he was fleeing the scene.
Slager was arrested by the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division, the agency investigating the shooting. Slager was booked into the Charleston County Sheriff’s Office shortly before 6 p.m. on Tuesday and faces a possible death sentence or life in prison.
“It’s been a tragic day for many,” Eddie Driggers, North Charleston’s chief of police, said at the news conference. “A tragic day for many.”
The shooting followed a traffic stop made shortly after 9:30 a.m. Saturday, according to a police report. After Slager stopped a vehicle, he began chasing the driver, described in the report as a black man and identified by local reports as Walter Scott.
Footage of the shooting, obtained by the New York Times and the Post and Courier newspaper, showed Scott fleeing from Slager across a tree-lined patch of grass. Slager fires a series of shots at Scott, who appears to be unarmed, striking Scott in the back.