This was certainly a tragic ending to this man’s life.
SUMMERVILLE, N.C. — Mourners are expected to gather Saturday in Summerville, South Carolina to remember Walter Scott, the 50-year-old black driver who was fatally shot by a white police officer after fleeing a traffic stop in North Charleston.
A steady stream of people gathered Friday afternoon at a wake to pay their respects to Scott, whose open casket was draped in an American flag and adorned with a Dallas Cowboys sign and a miniature figure of a player. A heart-shaped flower arrangement to the left of his casket during the wake read “Beloved Father” and a ribbon on the right read “St. Andrews Parish High School Class of 1984.” Some visitors talked about how well-preserved Scott appeared to be as they walked away from the casket, others expressed how bewildered they were with the circumstances that led to him lying there.
Scott was stopped on April 4 for driving with a broken tail light and eventually ran from the officer. Scott was driving a 1991 Mercedes that he bought from a neighbor and was headed to an auto parts store that morning, his brother Rodney Scott said.
Police and an attorney for former officer Michael Slager said Scott was fatally shot during a tussle over Slager’s gun. Slager was fired and charged with murder after video recorded by a witness surfaced and showed the officer firing eight shots at Scott as he tried running away. Video from the police car’s dashboard camera shows Slager asking Scott for his license and registration, then heading back to his cruiser before Scott gets out of the car and runs.
The case prompted outrage across the country as the latest instance of an unarmed black man being killed by a white officer.
Scott’s relatives have said they suspect he fled Slager out of fear of being jailed again over missed child support payments.
At the time he was stopped, Scott, a father of four who worked as a warehouse forklift operator, owed more than $18,000 in child support and court fees, according to Charleston County records. He last paid child support in 2012 and a bench warrant for his arrest was issued in early 2013. Scott had been in jail three times since 2008.
“He had trouble keeping up with the payments, that’s all, and he knew he would go to jail,” his older brother Rodney Scott said. “His mission was to avoid the police as much as possible.”
Rodney Scott said his brother would take long detours while driving to their parents’ house because he thought there were more police patrolling the direct, 10-minute route from his home. He said Walter also tried to make sure any vehicle he drove had working headlights and taillights. Some of the city’s black residents have told similar stories about being stopped by police over minor infractions or simply avoiding police altogether.
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