The bystander who recorded a South Carolina officer fatally shooting an unarmed Black man eight times said the cop had control of the situation before he pulled out his gun.
In an exclusive interview with NBC News, the witness, Feidin Santana, said he could hear North Charleston Police Officer Michael Slager deploying his Taser on Walter Scott when he pulled out his camera phone. He said the two were on the ground before he started filming.
“I remember the police had control of the situation,” Santana said during the interview (above). “You can hear the sound of a Taser … I believe [Scott] was just trying to get away from the Taser.”
Slager was arrested Tuesday and charged with murder after the shooting, which occurred during a traffic stop on Saturday. Slager was charged only after the video was released, and the footage pulled the officer’s own account of the incident into question.
Audio of Slager’s call to dispatch was released today, and there are clear discrepancies between that audio and Santana’s footage. Slager said he felt threatened because Scott allegedly reached for his Taser. Video evidence shows Slager dropping an object near Scott’s body after the shooting.
Santana has reportedly said he waited to release the footage to see how Slager would report his actions.
“He wanted to see what reports were coming from the North Charleston Police Department because of the fact that they may have told the truth,” Walter Scott’s brother told TIME on Wednesday. “And when they continued with the lies, he said, ‘I have to come forward.’”
Santana also said he almost erased the footage, fearing that he’d be “in the same danger” for even possessing it. He told NBC News that he’s emotional for everyone involved.
Santana said he almost erased the footage, fearing that he’d be “in the same danger” for even possessing it.
“It’s not something that anyone can feel good about,” he said. “[Slager] has his family … but he made a bad decision and you pay for your decisions in this life. There are other ways he could have used to get [Scott] arrested.”
Andy Campbell, editor of Huffington Post’s Crime and Weird News sections, can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter at @AndyBCampbell. This story first appeared on Huffington Post. See also “White cop charged with murder for shooting Black man in South Carolina.”