The man who filmed a former South Carolina police officer shooting Walter Scott in the back testified Friday that the fleeing black man never posed a danger to the officer.
Feidin Santana, 25, said he was walking to his barbershop job in April 2015 when he saw a black man running from a white cop in a North Charleston alley.
As Santana went for his phone, the officer — identified as Michael Slager, 34 — got control of the 50-year-old Scott.
Santana testified that he could hear a buzzing sound that he later discovered came from Slager’s stun gun.
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The officer had the upper hand throughout the brief altercation, Santana insisted under cross-examination.
“There was no fight,” Santana said. “On the ground was Walter Scott. The officer is on the ground controlling Walter Scott.”
Santana’s video captured what happened next. Scott broke free and sprinted off, prompting Slager to shoot from less than 10 feet away.
Former North Charleston Police Officer Michael Slager (2nd from r.) faces 30 years to life if convicted of Walter Scott’s murder.
The cell phone video — which prosecutors showed to the jury Friday — shocked the nation and triggered protests in South Carolina.
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Scott was hit five times in an incident that began with a traffic stop for a broken tail light.
Slager insisted that he fired eight rounds after Scott grabbed his Taser. But after the release of Santana’s video, Slager was charged with murder and booted from the force.
Defense lawyers had unsuccessfully sought to bar the video from being played at trial.
They were also unsuccessful in persuading the judge to order the clip to be shown only in real time.
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“What we’re trying to do is get the jury to view the situation in the same light as the officer,” lawyer Andy Savage said.
Scott (pictured) posed no threat to the cop, Santana said in court.
(U.s. coast guard)
Judge Clifton Newman saw it differently.
“I am not going to attempt to control the manner in which the state presents relevant evidence,” he said.
Under direct questioning, Santana said he picked up his phone after being alarmed by the sound of the officer’s Taser.
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“For some reason I decided to use my phone to record and prevent something that might happen,” Santana testified. “It was something I will never forget.”
When he learned that Scott died, Santana contacted Black Lives Matter leaders, who organized a meeting with the victim’s family.
Santana said he played them the video and later gave it to authorities.
Eyewitness Feidin Santana’s cellphone video shows white South Carolina officer Michael Slager fatally shooting Scott in the back as he ran away.
(The New York Times)
He conceded that he later received royalties from the video that he put toward buying a car and helping his son and daughter.
On cross-examination, Slager’s lawyer brought up song lyrics Santana had written months before the shooting: “Those who must defend us are the worst criminals. Who can I trust?”
Savage asked if that described Santana’s state of mind when he filmed the encounter.
“I’m not against any law enforcement, any officer,” Santana replied. “I am against police brutality.”
With News Wire Services.
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