SC police officer laughed about adrenaline rush after shooting Walter Scott
(Vice News) NORTH CHARLESTON, S.C. – Moments after firing eight shots, five of which fatally struck 50-year-old Walter Scott in the back, South Carolina police officer Michael Slager was allegedly recorded laughing as he told another officer his adrenaline was “pumping,” according to a newly released audio tape.
In the recording, obtained by the Guardian, which was made in the officer’s patrol car shortly after the April 5 incident, Slager, 33, speaks with a senior North Charleston police officer, who advises him to go home, and says he won’t have to answer questions about the shooting until later.
“By the time you get home, it would probably be a good idea to kind of jot down your thoughts on what happened,” the senior officer said. “You know, once the adrenaline quits pumping.”
“It’s pumping,” Slager replied, before laughing.
The new audio recording comes after the release of two separate videos, one recorded around 9:30am on April 5 from the patrol vehicle’s dash cam, which shows Scott, a former Coast Guard officer and father of four, bolting from a Mercedes-Benz without any immediate sign of provocation during a routine traffic stop for a broken tail light.
That dash cam recording reportedly continued for more than an hour, and caught Slager’s conversation with the senior officer once he returned to the car after the altercation and shooting.
In a separate video shot by a passerby on his phone, Slager can be seen chasing Scott to an empty grassy lot, where the pair wrestled briefly before the officer fired eight bullets at Scott’s back as he fled.
The shooting has made national headlines and sparked a string of protests in North Charleston, where activists have called for more citizen oversight of policing in the city, and for the resignation of both the city’s mayor and police chief.
On Wednesday afternoon, North Charleston Mayor Keith Summey announced murder charges had been filed against Slager, who has been denied bail pending his next court date in August. The officer faces 30 years to life in prison if found guilty of Scott’s murder.
Summey also announced that the department will soon be implementing a new bodycam program to increase police accountability. Over the weekend, New York Police Commissioner Ray Kelly issued a similar call for officer bodycams, after publicly resisting the use of the police-mounted cameras.
On Sunday, in an interview on ABC News’s This Week, Kelly called Scott’s murder a “game changer” and said the video of the shooting will likely convince other departments around the country to adopt bodycam programs.
“It has changed my mind,” Kelly said. “Because we have to assume that this officer would not act the way he did if, in fact, he had a body camera that was recording.”
But some civil rights activists aren’t convinced that bodycams can do enough to stop incidents of police brutality and fatal use of force, which have been the subject of mass nationwide demonstrations in recent months, sparked by several police killings of unarmed black men and boys.
“The Department of Justice and local officials must implement a complete overhaul of Charleston law enforcement, including the removal of Police Chief Eddie Driggers, the release of comprehensive data on police use of force, and the creation of an independent, civilian oversight,” Rashad Robinson, executive director of ColorofChange.org said in a statement. “Body cameras are a piece but do not go far enough.”
On Monday, the organization called for crowd-funding site Indiegogo to take down pages started for Slager after he was jailed.
The group posted a petition to pressure the online fund raising platform to “remove any Michael Slager fund raising pages from [the] platform immediately” online.
In another press conference Thursday, Summey confirmed that Slager has been fired, but said the department will continue to pay the insurance policy for the officer’s 8-month pregnant wife until the baby is born, saying it’s the “humane thing to do.”
Separate investigations into the incident are being conducted by South Carolina’s Law Enforcement Division and the FBI and Justice Department. The Justice Department has been responsible for investigating several civil rights suits brought against officers involved in civilian deaths.