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US police officer faces murder charge after shooting black man

A video showing a white police officer shooting a black man in the United States has prompted prosecutors to bring murder charges against the officer. Eight shots were fired as the victim ran away.

In an interview with NBC's Today Show on Wednesday, the father of a man shot by a police officer during a traffic stop said the truth about his son's death "never would have come to light" had a video from a bystander showing the shooting not surfaced.

"They would have swept it under the rug, like they did with many others," Walter Scott Sr. said.

Tensions have been high in the US over white policemen using deadly force against black men. Last year witnessed nationwide protests in the US after a white police officer killed 18-year-old Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri.

Attempt to avoid jail?

Scott's son, Walter Scott, had been pulled over in his car for a broken taillight on Saturday by Michael Slager, a police officer in the South Carolina town of North Charleston.

On Monday, Slager's former attorney released a statement saying the officer had felt threatened when the victim tried to go after his stun gun, which had caused him to fire the shots.

However, the video showed that Scott had attempted to run away from Slager, who responded by firing eight shots at Scott, who had his back to the officer.

Walter Scott Sr. speculated that his son had run away from the officer because of an arrest warrant relating to child support.

"I believe he did not want to go to jail again and just ran away," Scott Sr. said.

Video captures officer's actions

In the video, Slager can be seen walking up to Scott after he had fallen and ordering him to put his hands behind his back. Scott doesn't move, and Slager then places Scott's hands in handcuffs. Finally, Slager walks to where he had fired the shots, picks up an object from the ground, and places it next to Scott's body. The video does not show the initial contact between the two men.

Slager's lawyer dropped the officer as a client after the video was released, and murder charges have been brought against the officer. If convicted, he could face the death penalty or life in prison.

mz/kms (Reuters, AP, AFP)

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