Further video footage exists of the incident leading up to the police shooting of Walter Scott, according to North Charleston Mayor Keith Summey.
According to Summey, a patrol vehicle on the scene was equipped with a dashboard camera and recorded more of the incident than was captured in an eyewitness video that has been widely circulated online. Summey says he has not seen the dashboard camera footage because the incident is under investigation by the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division (SLED), but a Police Department spokesman said that SLED would likely release the footage on Thursday. A SLED spokesman has not yet confirmed that the footage will be released.
The press conference, which was heavily attended by national media along with protesters who had rallied in front of City Hall earlier in the morning, was hosted by Summey alongside North Charleston Police Chief Eddie Driggers. Driggers spoke sparingly, and Summey fielded the bulk of questions. When members of the crowd angrily asked why Driggers wasn’t speaking, Summey said that Driggers was unable to comment on the case while it was under investigation by SLED.
Many questions remain unanswered after the press conference. Here’s what we do know after the conference:
• Officer Michael T. Slager, who has been arrested and charged with murder in Scott’s death, initially said via a lawyer that he had fired at Scott after Scott attempted to take control of his police Taser. When asked whether there was any truth to Slager’s story, Summey said: “If you are made privy to all of the video — I have not seen all the video … The car video has that, and from what I understand, the video that I saw was not all the video that exists.”
• When asked whether, as some have theorized based on the eyewitness video footage, Slager had planted a Taser next to Scott’s body after shooting him, Driggers said, “There are questions I have in my mind that I can’t answer right now,” and said that the question would have to be answered by SLED and by Ninth Circuit Solicitor Scarlett Wilson.
• When asked when he began to suspect that Slager’s narrative was untrue, Summey said, “I saw the videotape yesterday for the first time. I had no reason to rely on anything but the evidence that we have, and I was not engaged in the investigation.”
• When asked whether one of the officers on scene had performed CPR on Scott, Driggers said that after watching the eyewitness video, he believed he had seen one of the officers lift Scott’s shirt to perform “some type of life-saving procedure, but I’m not sure.” Summey said that not all officers on the force are CPR-certified.
• When asked if the police department would seek to change the disparity between the racial makeup of the department and the racial makeup of the community (North Charleston is just 42 percent white, but the police department is about 80 percent white, according to 2007 Department of Justice data), Summey said, “Anyone that can become certified as a police officer, we’re more than willing to hire. The problem is we have a very limited number, even to the point where we’ve started going out and recruiting from other departments.”
• When asked for the make and model of the weapons involved, police spokesman Spencer Pryor said the Taser was an X26 model and the gun was a .45-caliber Glock 21.
• The name of the other officer who can be seen in the eyewitness video is Clarence Habersham, according to Pryor. When asked whether the other officer shown in the eyewitness video gave a conflicting narrative to Slager’s, Pryor said that Habersham did not give a narrative to the police department, but that he did meet with SLED.
• When asked if Slager had followed police department procedures, Chief Driggers said, “Obviously not.”
• When asked if Slager had complied with department policy by handcuffing Scott after he had been shot, Summey said, “That is standard policy across the country.”