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Man who took Walter Scott video feared for his safety

April 9, 2015

The man who captured the shooting of Walter Scott has opened up about what he saw. Another resident of the town has also come forward, saying a complaint he made against officer Michael Slager went ignored.

USA Walter L. Scott Fall
Image: picture-alliance/dpa/S. B. Morton

The man who shocked the world with a video apparently showing a white police officer in North Charleston, South Carolina, shoot unarmed African American Walter Lamer Scott came forward late Wednesday, saying he immediately recognized the significance of the chilling footage he recorded.

Feidin Santana told NBC television that he "knew right away, I had something on my hands." The 23-year-old captured the incident, in which police officer Michael Slager is shown shooting the fleeing Scott eight times in the back, on his cell phone.

As a result of the recording, 33-year-old Slager was charged with murder on Tuesday and faces a sentence of life imprisonment or death if convicted. Slager stands accused of killing Scott, 50, after a scuffle that began with a traffic stop for a broken tail light. The video contradicted Slager's claim that he fired because he felt threatened.

North Charleston police officer is seen allegedly shooting 50-year-old in the back
North Charleston police officer is seen allegedly shooting 50-year-old in the backImage: Reuters

Santana said he feared for his own safety after taking the video, thinking his life could be in danger. He said he thought about "erasing the video and getting out of the community, leaving North Charleston," but then he thought about the victim's family and how Scott "didn't deserve this."

Santana also shed some light on the incident that led to the shooting, claiming he saw Slager on top of Scott, in "control of the situation," but that he use of a stun gun caused Scott's attempts to run away.

"Scott was trying just to get away from the Taser. But like I said, he never used the taser against the cop."

Officer had previous excessive force complaint

In an interview with the Associated Press, another North Charleston resident claimed to have lodged a complaint against Slager in 2013 for use of excessive force, but that the officer was allowed to remain on duty following a brief investigation.

Mario Givens, now 33, said in the interview that Slager forcibly entered his home and used a stun gun on him despite the fact that Givens had surrendered and put his hands in the air. Givens also claimed that Slager never said what he wanted or who he was looking for.

Slager was responding to a complaint made by Given's brother's ex-girlfriend, and in the incident report wrote that he had mistaken Givens for his sibling, and had taken the man's unseen hands to mean he could be holding a weapon.

The ex-girlfriend, Maleah Kiara Brown, however, told AP that the officer was given a description of his brother, who is a full seven inches (17.8 centimeters) taller.

"It could have been prevented," Givens said of Scott's death. "If they had just listened to me and investigated what happened that night, this man might be alive today."

es/jil (AP, AFP)