North Charleston (US), Apr 9: The brother of a black man shot dead by a white officer in South Carolina said today he hopes his death will spark change and is calling for greater police accountability.
Walter Scott, 50, was killed on Saturday in North Charleston as he was running from an officer who pulled his gun and fired eight shots, five of which hit him. A bystander caught the incident on camera and the officer, Michael Slager, 33, was later charged with murder and fired.
Walter's brother, Anthony Scott, demanded changes in the force after his sibling's death. "There has to be accountability for officers, and they have to think twice about firing their firearms and shooting down people," he told AFP. "They have to think about those things before taking the life of someone senselessly, senselessly gunning down a person."
Slager had stopped Walter Scott for a routine traffic violation over a broken taillight. It is not clear what happened before Slager opened fire, but Anthony Scott said he was grateful for the video and hopes the incident will provoke reform. "He may just have been another victim... and we don't want him to be just another victim."
"Something has to be done," Anthony Scott urged. North Charleston mayor Keith Summey said the police department would buy body cameras for officers to wear to record interactions with the public. A lawyer for the Scott family said he supported the move.
"That's protection for the officers and for citizens, because now an officer can say 'look at my body camera, I didn't do anything wrong," Chris Stewart told AFP. "Or a citizen can say 'I was abused, look at the body camera footage.' That's phenomenal."
There were peaceful protests in North Charleston yesterday, and a candlelight vigil was held for Scott, a father of four, in the evening. His funeral is scheduled to take place Saturday. Activists called for an emergency city council session, demanding that a citizens review board be formed.
"Far from one isolated incident and 'one bad apple,' we are witnessing symptoms of a policing system that is unaccountable to the community it is supposed to serve and protect," the group Black Lives Matter CHS said in a statement.
"Demonstrations will continue until these demands are met." The president of the Charleston branch of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, Dot Scott, said the fact that Slager was charged and fired swiftly was the "exception rather than the rule."