Funeral held for black SC man shot by white officer; minister calls shooting racist – Minneapolis Star Tribune



Mourners look on as a hearse carrying the casket of Walter Scott arrives for his funeral at W.O.R.D. Ministries Christian Center, Saturday, April 11, 2015, in Summerville, S.C.

Photo: David Goldman, Associated Press – Ap

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SUMMERVILLE, S.C. — The death of a black man shot in the back while fleeing a white police officer was the act of a racist cop, a minister told hundreds who gathered Saturday for the funeral of Walter Scott.

“All of us have seen the video,” the Rev. George Hamilton, the minister at W.O.R.D. Ministries Christian Center, told an overflow congregation. “There is no doubt in my mind and I feel that Walter’s death was motivated by racial prejudice.” Authorities have not said whether race was a factor in the shooting.

Scott was a father of four and Coast Guard veteran whose death sparked outrage as another instance of a white law officer fatally shooting an unarmed black man under questionable circumstances. The shooting last weekend in North Charleston was captured on a dramatic cellphone camera video by a man who was walking past.

About 450 people including U.S. Sen. Tim Scott, R-S.C., and U.S. Rep. Jim Clyburn, D-S.C., the two black members of South Carolina’s congressional delegation, gathered in the sanctuary of the church where Scott had worshipped.

About 200 more people waited outside beneath the portico of the church or under umbrellas in the rain because the sanctuary had reached capacity.

Hamilton called Michael Slager — the officer involved in the shooting and who has been charged with murder and fired — a disgrace to the Charleston Police Department.

“This particular cop was a racist. You don’t Tase a man and then shoot,” the minister said. But he added “we will not indict the entire law enforcement community for the act of one racist.”

Hamilton said that the Scott family could take comfort in the fact that Slager was captured on the video, was charged and will face justice.

Scott was remembered as a gentle soul and a born-again Christian. “He was not perfect,” the minister said, adding that nobody is.

The two-hour service included spirituals and remembrances of the 50-year-old Scott.

Those who waited outside were able to enter at the end of the service and file by Scott’s open casket covered in an American flag and surrounded with sprays of flowers.

Scott’s family arrived in a fleet of three black limousines followed by several other vehicles. Dozens who were waiting outside held up their cellphones trying to capture the scene as Scott’s casket was unloaded from the hearse and wheeled inside.

“You know, Walter touched a lot of people. He was very friendly with everyone. I don’t think he ever met an enemy. So, there’s a lot of people out here, just paying their respects to him and his legacy,” said Tyrone Johnson, a Charlotte, North Carolina resident who was waiting before the service. He said he went to high school with Scott and one of his brothers.

Police initially said Scott was shot on April 4 during a tussle over Slager’s department-issued Taser. But the video taken by the bystander and released last Tuesday showed Slager firing eight times as Scott ran away.

Scott was driving a 1991 Mercedes that he bought from a neighbor and was headed to an auto parts store when he was stopped, his brother Rodney Scott said.

Police said he had a broken tailight. 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.

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, who worked as a warehouse forklift operator, owed more than $18,000 in child support and court fees, according to Charleston County records.


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