A white police officer, Michael T. Slager, 33, was charged with murder on Tuesday after a video surfaced showing him shooting in the back and killing an apparently unarmed black man, Walter L. Scott, 50. Officer Slager said he had feared for his life because Mr. Scott had taken his stun gun in a scuffle after a traffic stop over a broken taillight. A video, however, shows the officer firing eight times as Mr. Scott fled, then apparently dropping the stun gun next to the body.
Officer Slager's lawyer, Jimmy McGill, told reporters that the video doesn't tell the whole story. "First of all, this whole thing about Mr. Scott being unarmed is nonsense. You saw the video -- that guy had two arms on him. Two. And they were big. He could've choked a horse. And for all we know, maybe he did. That guy was no boy scout."
As for the stun gun, Mr. McGill said, "That's another thing the video doesn't tell you. During the scuffle, Mr. Scott whispered to Officer Slager, 'I'm going to take that stun gun and stun you!' So the only way to prove that Mr. Scott threatened him was for Officer Slager to drop the stun gun next to him."
Responding to a reporter's comment that a broken taillight shouldn't have been cause to eventually cause Mr. Scott's death, McGill explained, "Broken taillights can kill, period. Mr. Scott's car was a walking -- make that riding car bomb. Who knows how many more people would have died otherwise?"
Asked why Officer Slager felt the need to cuff Mr. Scott behind his back after shooting at him eight times, Mr. McGill said, "It's pretty easy to Monday morning quarterback when you're not a cop. Why don't you fire a gun at someone eight times, see how brave you are afterwards? Oh, and let's remember that only five of those bullets hit Mr. Scott. So let's not make a tragic situation worse."
Wrapping up the press conference, Mr. McGill said, "Bottom line, Officer McGill followed protocol: When in doubt, kill the black guy."