North Charleston Mayor Announces All Officers Will Wear Body Cams

A man holds a sign during a protest for the shooting death of Walter Scott at city hall in North Charleston, S.C., Wednesday,
A man holds a sign during a protest for the shooting death of Walter Scott at city hall in North Charleston, S.C., Wednesday, April 8, 2015. Scott was killed by a North Charleston police officer after a traffic stop on Saturday. The officer, Michael Thomas Slager, has been charged with murder. (AP Photo/Chuck Burton)

The mayor of a South Carolina city where a police officer shot and killed a fleeing, unarmed black man announced Wednesday that the city will supply more than 200 body cameras for the police force.

Keith Summey said at a press conference Wednesday that North Charleston, where Officer Michael T. Slager fatally shot 50-year-old Walter Scott on Saturday, already has a grant to supply 101 body cameras for the officers, and that he has ordered 150 more, The Guardian reports. Summey noted that was enough for every patrol officer to wear one.

Slager was not wearing a body camera on Saturday, but the killing was caught on cell phone video by an unidentified bystander and released to the New York Times Tuesday. The video shows Slager chasing Scott, then shooting at Scott eight times in the back before he collapses.


Before the video’s release, an attorney for the officer said Slager felt threatened because Scott tried to overpower him and take his Taser. On Tuesday, the same lawyer told media outlets he was “no longer involved” with the case.

Had the killing not been caught on tape, it’s likely that media coverage of the event would have been quite different. Slager was charged with murder and subsequently fired from the department after the video’s release.

Summey also noted that a second video of the incident -- taken from a camera in Slager's car -- exists but is not being released, pending the investigation, according to The Hill. Summey did not say what was shown in the video.

The city of North Charleston has had plans since February to purchase more than a hundred body cameras, according to The Washington Post. However, in part to the time it takes to purchase cameras and properly train employees, officers have not yet been outfitted with the equipment.

South Carolina state representative Wendell Gilliard filed a bill in December that would require all law enforcement offers to wear body cameras while on duty, but the bill has not yet gone through a committee hearing. In the four months prior to the bill being filed, three South Carolina police officers have been indicted in shootings of unarmed black men, according to CBS.

Even if the bill passes, body cameras do have limitations. Attorney Mike Rains pointed out to The Huffington Post earlier this year that even video footage is subject to viewer interpretation.



Walter Scott