Family members of a black man fatally shot in the back by a white South Carolina police officer in a case that sparked national uproar says they still grieve, but are heartened by some positive changes in law enforcement.
The family of Walter Scott, 50, made the comments Monday at a ceremony marking the one-year anniversary of his death. Scott was shot five times by Officer Michael Slager after he tried to flee from a traffic stop; a passer-by recorded the incident on his phone and the video of the shooting went viral on the internet, fueling the on-going debate about the mistreatment of black men by white police officers.
Scott's relatives on Monday laid flowers at his grave-site and held a moment of silence, followed by an address to the media.
“We have seen a lot of positive changes over the past year,” said Scott's brother, Anthony Scott, referring to the recent changes in law enforcement policies in South Carolina.
In June 2015, state authorities passed a law requiring all police officer to wear a body-camera when on duty. South Carolina is one of the few states to mandate body-worn cameras.
The number of traffic stops by the North Charleston police have also halved since last April, the (Charleston, S.C.) Post and Courier reported. According to the paper, 26,000 motorists were pulled over in the nine months after Scott’s shooting, compared to 54,000 in the same period the year before.
“We miss Walter every single day and we want this man (Slager) to be convicted,” Anthony Scott said. He called Scott’s case a “blueprint” for the nation to use against the injustices by police.
“If Slager was an average citizen, he would have been easily convicted,” State Representative and lawyer for Scott’s family, Justin T. Bamberg, told USA Today. “He being a police officer makes things a little harder for us.”
Bamberg said that he is proud of the positive consequences of the case. In addition to the above outcomes, he said, the charge against Slager and his removal from duty shows that shooting people while they flee is a violation of constitutional rights.
Anthony said the community and the state authorities have been very supportive of the Scott family. He encouraged supporters to keep fighting for justice in the case and for anyone who is mistreated by police.
Slager is out on bond till the trial begins in October 2016.