The man who shot cell phone video of a black South Carolina man being shot in the back by a police officer is speaking out, saying he shared the video with the victim’s family after seeing that a police report did not mesh with what he saw.
Feidin Santana spoke to NBC’s Lester Holt about the incident that has grabbed attention nationwide and become what some say is the most recent example of alleged police brutality against black men. Former North Charleston, S.C., police officer Michael Slager said he feared for his life after Walter Scott, 50, grabbed his stun gun after a traffic stop, but Santana’s Samsung cell phone video shows Scott running away as Slager shoots him eight times.
Slager, 33, was charged with murder Tuesday.
Santana said in the television interview that he was walking to work when he noticed a scuffle taking place between the officer and Scott.
“I was on a phone call and I decide to walk over there and see what was going on,” Santana said. “They were down on the floor before I started recording.”
He continued, “I remember police had control of the situation, he (Slager) had control of Scott and Scott was trying to get away from the Taser.”
“I believe he (Scott) was trying to get away from the Taser,” Santana said.
He explained he then saw Scott get shot and go down.
“As you can see in the video, the police officer just shot him in the back and I knew right away I had something in my hands,” Santana said.
The young man initially feared retribution if he shared the video, but he later learned about what the official police report contained and that helped change his mind, a lawyer representing the family told the Los Angeles Times. The report “wasn’t like I saw it,” Santana said. “I got mad.”
Santana then approached the brother of the victim. “If I had a family member, I would want to know the truth,” Santana said.
Neither Santana nor L. Christopher Stewart, an Atlanta-based lawyer for the Scott family, responded to multiple requests for comment Wednesday night.
North Charleston Police Chief Eddie Driggers said during a press conference Wednesday that he watched the video and he was “sickened by what I saw.”
Others in the same situation as Santana, who have captured video of alleged police brutality, claim they suffered retribution afterward.
Ramsey Orta, who shot video last August of Staten Island, N.Y., father Eric Garner going down in what appears to be an illegal police chokehold, was arrested on weapons charges shortly after the fatal incident. Police said Orta had a stolen handgun in his possession, but Orta said the arrest was payback for making the Garner incident public.
SOURCE: USA Today – Melanie Eversley