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The eyewitness hailed a hero for filming the harrowing moment that a white cop repeatedly shot an unarmed black man said on Thursday that the victim was just trying to get away from the Taser.
Feidin Santana told Today that 50-year-old Walter Scott ‘was trying to get away from the Taser, his reaction to get away… He never grabbed the Taser from the police’.
Mr Santana then said he watched in horror as Officer Michael Slager shot Scott in the back multiple times as he fled and then appeared to stage the scene at the vacant lot in North Charleston, South Carolina.
The 23-year-old, who was walking to work on Saturday when he witnessed the killing, admitted that he considered erasing the video and leaving town.
‘I was scared. I am still scared,’ Mr Santana said on Thursday. ‘But I decided to show my face. My life has changed. People know where I live and where I work. I thought about staying anonymous but everyone including the police know who I am.’
The 23-year-old, who is originally from the Dominican Republic, had been walking to the barber shop where he works last Saturday morning along his usual route when he saw Mr Scott being chased by the cop.
‘It was a persecution,’ Mr Santana told Morning Joe. ‘I saw Mr Scott running and officer chasing him. They were going to an empty spot.’
He said he knew that Officer Slager tasered Scott because he heard the sound and the victim yelling out.
Mr Santana said he did not hear the officer yell stop before he fired eight shots at Scott.
The witness continued to film and moved closer to where the victim was lying lifeless on the ground.
‘At that moment, I never thought he was dead. I thought maybe one bullet had hit him, ‘ Mr Santana said on Thursday.
Mr Santana said that Officer Slager was aware he was at the scene.
‘Maybe he could feel that somebody was there. I wanted him to know that he was not by himself,’ he said.
The 23-year-old witness said that he did not see any officer perform CPR on Scott. He saw Slager check for a pulse and a second officer, life up the victim’s shirt to look at the wounds.
Following the shooting, Mr Santana told responding officers at the scene that he had video of what happened and was told to wait to one side – but he made the decision to leave and go to his barber shop, where he called a trusted friend.
Mr Santana said he decided to reach out to the Scott family with the tape of their loved one’s death – which contradicted the police report that Slager filed on the incident.
‘I thought about his position, their situation … If I were to have a family member that would happen [to], I would like to know the truth,’ he told NBC Nightly News anchor Lester Holt.
‘Mr. Scott didn’t deserve this, and there were other ways that can be used to get him arrested, and that wasn’t the proper way to do that.’
Meanwhile, an Indiegogo page has been created to raise money in support of Slager, with donations continuing to come in, and a Facebook page and Twitter account have also been created to support the effort’
‘We’re campaigning to show our Support for Officer Michael T. Slager! We believe in all of our LEOs and want to publicly support them!’ reads the page.
‘Although he may have made mis-steps in judgement he was protecting the community.’
One of the individuals who donated listed their name as Trayvon.
Earlier, GoFundMe, another popular crowd-funding site, refused to have anything to do with the fundraising campaign.
Some in the community gathered near North Charleston City Hall Wednesday evening close to where the shooting took place to remember Scott.
While some held candles and fought back tears, others waved signs with messages that said ‘Walter We All Have Your Back’ and ‘We Are All Human.’
There was also storytelling and at one point the crowd began to chant ‘hands up, don’t shoot.’
The evening ended with a few of the participants observing a moment of silence to honor the life of Scott.
State Rep. Wendell Gilliard was on the scene as well according to The Post and Courier and spoke to everyone in attendance, urging them to get ‘committed, involved and engaged.’
Many also discussed how different this tragedy could have played out if not for Santana filming the entire incident.
There was also a small memorial set up where Scott was shot by some, with flowers and a single teddy bear hanging from a fence.
This as the FBI and the Justice Department’s civil rights prosecutors announced on Wednesday there would be a federal probe.
Also on Wednesday night, Hillary Clinton shared her thoughts on the tragedy, writing on Twitter; ‘Praying for #Walter Scott’s family. Heartbreaking & too familiar. We can do better – rebuild trust, reform justice system, respect all lives.’
Earlier in the day, local authorities refused to say on whether other police officers will be charged in the cover-up of an unarmed black father’s fatal shooting by a white cop.
North Charleston Mayor Keith Summey would not answer questions on the involvement of other members of the force in the killing of Scott, 50, who was shot five times in the back by Officer Slager in South Carolina.
The 33-year-old patrolman, who is white, initially defended his actions, saying he feared for his life after Scott wrestled his Taser gun from him during a scuffle when he pulled him over for a broken brake light on Saturday morning.
Four days later, anonymous cellphone footage emerged and blew Slager’s story wide open.
The video showed the officer firing eight shots at Scott, a father-of-four, from around 20 feet away while the man had his back turned and was fleeing. Sagler then cuffed Scott’s lifeless body and was seen dropping an object – possibly his service-issue Taser – by his side.
The cop was charged with murder on Tuesday and could face the death penalty.
During a chaotic press conference on Wednesday, demonstrators grew angry after the mayor took over questions directed at Police Chief Eddie Driggers who stepped back from the podium.
Mayor Summey refused to answer questions on other cops’ involvement, citing an independent investigation underway by the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division.
Slager was fired one day after his murder charge but his wife, who is eight months’ pregnant, will still receive insurance from the city until after her baby was born because it was the ‘humane thing to do’, the mayor said.
Read more: dailymail.co.uk