Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Family of black shot by cop reaches  $6.5M settlement with city

The family of Walter Scott, a black South Carolina man shot and killed by a police officer who is now facing murder charges, has reached a $6.5 million settlement with city officials.

The North Charleston, S.C. city council approved the settlement Thursday night at a hearing attended by Scott's family and their attorneys.

Officer Michael Slager, who is white, was arrested and charged with murder after a videotape taken by a bystander showed the officer shooting a fleeing Scott in the back multiple times on April 4. Scott died at the scene. The video, replayed across the country, captured national attention and underscored increasing tension between white police officers and black men.

"I am glad the city and the family were able to reach a settlement without the necessity of a lawsuit," North Charleston Mayor R. Keith Summey said shortly after the settlement's approval. "Both sides have met many times and worked very hard over the past several months to resolve this matter."

Summey said he appreciated Scott's family asking for calm shortly after video of Scott's death surfaced. He explained that since the shooting, North Charleston has taken several steps including outfitting police with body cameras as well as engaging the North Charleston police department and the Justice Department.

South Carolina authorities released patrol car dash camera video Thursday showing Walter Scott getting out of his car and running away after a traffic stop moments before he was shot dead by a North Charleston police officer. VPC

"As a result of this tragedy, important issues have been discussed not only in North Charleston, but around the country," Summey said. "Citizens have become engaged in the process and government officials are listening."

The South Carolina Law Enforcement Division, which is investigating the shooting, also released video taken by a police patrol car dash camera showing Scott, 50, getting out of his car and running away after a traffic stop moments before he was shot dead by Slager.

In that video, Slager, approaches a dark Mercedes-Benz driven by Scott and says he pulled him over because of a non-functioning taillight. Scott can be heard saying he doesn't have registration or insurance on the vehicle because he was in the process of buying it.

After a brief exchange, the officer returns to his cruiser. Scott tentatively gets out from the car, then gets back in. Moments later Scott opens the door again and runs off the side of the screen. Slager then runs after him.

Thursday night, Scott's family reflected on the settlement and Slager's fate.

"While nothing can replace having Walter in our lives, the city of North Charleston’s historic actions ensure that he did not die in vain," Anthony Scott, Walter Scott’s brother said. "This city sent a message, loud and clear, that this kind of reckless behavior exhibited by members of law enforcement will not and shall not be tolerated."

Anthony Scott added that the family is now hoping that Slager is convicted of murder.

"We will now focus on efforts in the criminal trial of Walter’s killer," Anthony Scott said. "It is our hope that after a jury of his peers reviews the evidence, they’ll send an equally important message to law enforcement. This is not place for unnecessary violence against unarmed fleeing individuals."

Walter Scott's family said the settlement will go toward Scott's children and that a portion of the money will also be donated to help with disaster relief efforts for recent flooding in South Carolina.

Original report here

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