A white police officer who gunned down a fleeing, unarmed black man appeared to plant his service-issue Taser gun at the side of the victim's lifeless body, according to shocking videotape which emerged in the wake of the senseless killing.
WARNING: GRAPHIC CONTENT
Patrolman Michael Slager, 33, opened fire on father-of-four Walter Scott, 50, in North Charleston, South Carolina, on Saturday morning after reportedly stopping him over a broken tail light.
Slager was charged with murder on Tuesday and could face the death penalty after the incendiary footage emerged. The officer had previously defended his actions, saying he feared for his life after Scott wrestled his Taser gun from him during a scuffle.
However, cellphone footage from the scene showed Scott getting around 15-20 feet away before Slager opened fire with seven shots in quick succession followed by an eighth. The 50-year-old U.S. Coast Guard veteran was hit five times.
The officer then slowly walked toward him and ordered Scott to put his hands behind his back, but the man didn't move.
Slager then handcuffed his lifeless body before jogging back to where he had fired the shots to pick up an object from the ground - possibly the Taser.
The officer then returned to Scott where a second officer was on the scene. Slager can be seen on video tape appearing to drop an object next to the victim's body.
The footage also contradicted police claims that officers performed CPR on the suspect.
The parents of Walter Scott told the Today show on Wednesday that they wanted justice for their son.
"It would have never come to light. They would have swept it under the rug, like they did with so many others," Walter Scott Sr said.
Mr Scott Sr added: "The way he [Slager] was shooting that gun, it looked like he was trying to kill a deer... I don't know whether it was racial, or it was something wrong with his head."
An outraged representative of Scott's family added: "This was a cop who felt like he could get away with just shooting anybody that many times in the back."
The killing comes at a time of mounting unrest over police use of force - particularly against black men - after violent protests erupted over the killing of unarmed teenager Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri last summer.
Justice Department spokeswoman Dena Iverson said the FBI would also investigate the shooting.
The footage began rolling in a vacant lot apparently moments after Slager fired his Taser.
Slager claimed he tried to Taser the victim during the scuffle, but said Scott managed to wrest the stun gun away, prompting him to draw his pistol.
At that point, the officer said he fired at Scott several times, saying he "felt threatened" by the Coast Guard veteran.
Footage then appeared to show Slager jogging back to the point where the Taser fell to the ground, bringing it over to Scott's body around 30 feet away and dropping it next to him.
According to police reports, officers performed CPR on Scott.
But video showed that Scott remained face down on the floor for several minutes without being given any medical attention.
It was only after two-and-a-half minutes that Slager was seen placing his hand on Scott's neck in an apparent attempt to check his pulse.
A black law enforcement colleague then arrived and put on blue medical gloves before handling the body, but was not seen giving any medical assistance.
The two cops were later joined by a third officer, who also did not appear to tend to the victim.
As soon as emergency responders arrived, they pronounced Scott dead at the scene.
Keith Summey, the mayor of North Charleston, termed the killing a "bad decision" at a press conference announcing the charges.
He said: "When you're wrong, you're wrong. When you make a bad decision, don't care if you're behind the shield or a citizen on the street, you have to live with that decision."
On Monday, an attorney for the officer had issued a statement putting across Slager's version of events.
He said the officer "felt threatened and reached for his department-issued firearm and fired his weapon".
The statement, reported by the The Post and Courier, added: "Officer Slager believes he followed all the proper procedures and policies of the North Charleston Police Department".
In the wake of the murder charges, the lawyer no longer represents him.
Scott may have tried to run from the officer because he owed child support, which can get someone sent to jail in South Carolina until they pay it back, Stewart said.
He had four children, was engaged and had been honorably discharged from the U.S. Coast Guard.
Stewart said the family would also pursue civil charges against Slager, saying they were angry at the way the police department sought to defend the police officer until the video emerged.
He also said that without the video, and the "hero" who recorded it, there would have been no murder charges.
He told TV crews: "What happened today doesn't happen all the time - what if there was no video? What if there was no witness - or hero - to come forward?
"The initial reports stated something totally different - the officer said Mr Scott attacked him and tried to use his Taser on him. But somebody was watching."
Scott's brother, Anthony, spoke after his brother's death. He said Walter had a fiancée, two siblings and four children.
He told WCIV: "My brother is a kind and sweet person. He talked to everybody, knew all our family members by name, anybody that came in touch with Walter loved him."
"He loved the [Dallas] Cowboys. We had planned to go to go see them play but I guess that won't happen now."
At a press conference on Tuesday evening, Anthony Scott spoke out again.
He said: "From the beginning, all we wanted was the truth... we can't get my brother back and my family is in deep mourning, but the process of justice has been served.
He later added: "I don't wanna see anyone get shot down the way that my brother got shot down.
"I asked that everyone continue to pray for my family, that we get through this - because we need prayer."