A white South Carolina police officer has been charged with murder after video surfaced showing him shooting a fleeing, unarmed black man. The New York Times published the video Tuesday; it appears to show Officer Michael T. Slager of the North Charleston, South Carolina, police department, scuffling with Walter L. Scott after a traffic stop. Scott is seen turning to run away; Slager then appears to fire eight shots, and Scott falls to the ground.
Slager told police Scott stole his Taser, according to the Times. In the video, what looks like Slager’s Taser falls to the ground and Slager appears to place it next to Scott’s body.
North Charleston is a town of about 100,000, nearly half of whom are black. The city’s police department is 80 percent white, according to the Times. The Times quotes the town’s mayor on the decision to charge Slager with murder:
“When you’re wrong, you’re wrong,” Mayor Keith Summey said about the shooting during the news conference. “When you make a bad decision, don’t care if you’re behind the shield or a citizen on the street, you have to live with that decision.”
As Mother Jones reported in August, it’s hard to know exactly how common this type of shooting is. What we do know is that police are rarely charged with crimes in such cases.