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In North Charleston, Video Of Police Shooting 'Sickens' City Leaders

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

In the city of North Charleston, S.C., protesters today demanded more oversight of police. Their calls came a day after a state murder charge against a white police officer who shot and killed a black man. Authorities arrested the officer after a bystander came forward with a video. It shows the officer shooting 50-year-old Walter Scott in the back as he ran away.

In a moment, we'll hear from a South Carolina state lawmaker who wants to see body cameras on every police officer in the state. First, Georgia Public Broadcasting's Sarah McCammon has this report on the day's events in North Charleston.

SARAH MCCAMMON, BYLINE: With the American flag reflecting in the window behind them, leaders of a local Black Lives Matter group led about 200 people in chants and speeches outside North Charleston City Hall.

MUHIYIDIN D'BAHA: I'm here this morning to tell you that black lives matter.

UNIDENTIFIED PEOPLE: Black lives matter.

MCCAMMON: Speaking into a megaphone, organizer Muhiyidin d'Baha said too many African-Americans fear the police.

D'BAHA: Every time that blue light comes on, all the stories that haven't been told yet, all the videos that weren't taken yet, all the pictures that weren't taken yet - where are those stories? Those stories are in our hearts and in our minds, in our families, in our cousins, in our brothers, in our sisters, in our mothers.

MCCAMMON: So much of the story hinges on that video taken by a witness and released yesterday. Without it, several protesters point out, Officer Michael Slager would still be free. During a news conference this afternoon, North Charleston Mayor Keith Summey said until he saw that video, he had no reason to doubt the officer.

(SOUNDBITE OF NEWS CONFERENCE)

MAYOR KEITH SUMMEY: I saw the videotape yesterday for the first time.

MCCAMMON: Slager said he feared for his life after 50-year-old Walter Scott took his taser. The video doesn't show that, but it does show the shooting and its aftermath. Chief Eddie Driggers said it's upsetting.

EDDIE DRIGGERS: I have watched the video, and I was sickened by what I saw. And I have not watched it since.

MCCAMMON: Driggers says he too has questions about the incident, which started with a routine traffic stop. The department handed off the case to the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division.

DRIGGERS: We are under no obligation to turn an investigation over. We could've investigated this ourselves.

MCCAMMON: Mayor Summey says police already had about 100 body cameras on the way, and today, the department ordered 150 more so that every officer will have one. Summey and the chief met with the Scott family this morning. He called them an outstanding family and promised a police escort for the funeral.

(SOUNDBITE OF NEWS CONFERENCE)

SUMMEY: They're suffering. Those of you, however you choose to offer up prayers, please pray for this family and the time that they're going through.

MCCAMMON: Officer Slager is charged with murder and was fired from his job, but the city will provide medical coverage for his wife, who is eight months pregnant, until the baby is born. That, the mayor says, is the humane thing to do. For NPR News, I'm Sarah McCammon in North Charleston, S.C. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.