Video Of Officer Shooting Man In The Back Astonishes S.C. Residents

Originally published on April 9, 2015 5:11 pm
Copyright 2015 Georgia Public Broadcasting. To see more, visit http://www.gpb.org/.

Transcript

RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

A second video may be released today showing more of what happened when a white police officer in South Carolina shot and killed a black man who was running away.

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

This recording is from Officer Michael Slager's dashboard camera. State investigators hope it will reveal what led up to the moment in which Walter Scott was shot to death. There is, of course, already one dramatic video showing that shooting, and that evidence is prompting some people in South Carolina to believe this case could lead to bigger change. Sarah McCammon of Georgia Public Broadcasting is there.

JEROD FRAZIER: Let us pray. Heavenly Father, we come now to say thank you.

SARAH MCCAMMON, BYLINE: At Charity Missionary Baptist Church in North Charleston, about 20 people gathered in the first few pews for last night's Bible study.

FRAZIER: Genesis chapter 12.

MCCAMMON: It's a chance to come together, read Scripture and talk. Kartika Hammond Gibson says this week has been especially difficult.

KARTIKA HAMMOND GIBSON: Because we've been through it before, several times, but not so vivid as the kind of video that we're seeing. And the thought that if that video had not surfaced, what would have happened?

MCCAMMON: That's a question many North Charleston residents are asking this week. Jerod Frazier is a lay minister at the predominantly African-American church. He didn't know the victim, Walter Scott, but he says there have been other shootings of black men where the police have not been held accountable. He says the video could change everything if it leads to systemic changes in policing.

FRAZIER: This is going to be the Selma of the police violence against the African-American movement, I believe.

MCCAMMON: During a press conference at city hall yesterday, protesters interrupted Mayor Keith Summey, calling for Police Chief Eddie Driggers to answer more questions.

(SOUNDBITE OF PROTEST)

UNIDENTIFIED CROWD: (Chanting) We want Driggers. We want Driggers.

MAYOR KEITH SUMMEY: I understand.

UNIDENTIFIED CROWD: (Chanting) We want Driggers. We want Driggers.

SUMMEY: Because the chief is not allowed to answer any questions about the investigation, because there's another agency doing the investigation...

MCCAMMON: Protesters applauded when a reporter asked about the racial makeup of the force, which is more than three-quarters white in a city that is majority black. The mayor said the department has struggled to recruit minority officers. Minister Jerod Frazier, who himself served as a police officer for several years, thinks he knows why.

FRAZIER: My grandmother looked me in the eye and said, why would you want to do a thing like that? That historic enmity between the two entities makes it difficult for a little boy growing up to tell his family, I want to be one of them.

MCCAMMON: Frazier says the department has made some efforts to reach out to minority communities, but he'd like to see more. For police in North Charleston, it's also been a difficult week. Chaplain Rich Robinson says part of his job is to help first responders work through their trauma.

RICH ROBINSON: Sometimes, you have a fireman or a policeman who's tried to revive a child and maybe hasn't been successful. And that's who we're there for. We're there to help them because at the end of the shift, they'll go home and pick up their child.

MCCAMMON: So when you have a colleague who has been charged with murder, he says it makes an already tough job even harder.

ROBINSON: The struggle here is that you have a lot of good people out there trying to do really good work in the community as first responders and this kind of situation causes a real struggle because this is not who they are.

MCCAMMON: When a shooting like this happens, Robinson says, everyone is affected. For NPR News, I'm Sarah McCammon in North Charleston, S.C. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.