An overflow crowd of mourners turned out Saturday for the funeral in Summerville, S.C., of Walter Scott, whose fatal shooting at the hands of a white North Charleston, S.C., officer has stirred a national debate over the use of force by police.
In a highly public gesture by North Charleston city officials, the hearse carrying Scott’s body was accompanied by a police escort of two officers on motorcycles.
Despite the intense national media attention on the case, the Scott family barred cameras from the three-hour service, which was delayed because of the crowd pressing to get in.
Among those attending were U.S. Sen. Tim Scott, R-S.C., and U.S. Reps. Jim Clyburn, Democrat, and Mark Sanford, Republican.
The 50-year-old forklift operator was killed last Saturday after running from his car following a routine stop by police officer Michael Slager, 33. Slager was fired and is jailed on murder charges.
North Charleston Mayor Keith Summey said he and North Charleston police chief Eddie Driggers decided not to attend Saturday’s funeral, which was open to the public, to avoid creating a distraction for the family in their moment of grief, the Post and Courier reported.
The city wanted to give Scott’s family “the utmost respect and the respect that the gentleman who is deceased deserves,” Summey said.
Both, however, planned to attend a memorial church service Sunday in North Charleston where civil rights leader Rev. Al Sharpton is expected to speak.
Civil rights activists, who have mounted marches and protests to try to pressure the police department into more accountability, also agreed to suspend their activities during the funeral at W.O.R.D. Ministries Christian Center. A prayer vigil was planned later Saturday at the site of the shooting.
SOURCE: Doug Stanglin