The mother of a South Carolina police officer charged with murder in the shooting death of an apparently unarmed black man has been unable to bring herself to watch the shocking video of the encounter — but still believes her son is "a good person."
"I just can’t do it right now," Karen Sharpe, the mother of fired North Charleston police officer Michael Slager, said of the shocking video in an interview with NBC News Thursday.
Slager, 33, was arrested Tuesday and charged with murder for allegedly shooting Walter Scott, 50, in the back as he was running away from the officer following a traffic stop on Saturday.
The charges were announced aftervideo was released that appears to show Slager firing eight times at Scott when Scott had his back turned and was far away from the officer. The footage contradicts Slager’s claim that Scott had grabbed his Taser and the officer feared for his life.
"Michael’s a very generous person, a very kind person. I can’t imagine ... Michael wasn't raised like that," Sharpe said. "He’s a good person."
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"He was trained to do what he does and that's his job," Sharpe said. "I just feel he did his job, he did what he was supposed to do, and I can't say anything else about that. That's the way I feel," In to not watching the video, Sharpe said she has tried to avoid reading about the deadly shooting.
Slager, who was fired Wednesday, was an officer on the North Charleston Police Department for five years and before that served with the Coast Guard. He has two stepchildren and has a baby on the way. The city will continue to provide health insurance for Slager’s wife, who is eight months pregnant, until the baby is born.
Sharpe said she has not spoken to her son since the shooting. She said he never discussed with family details about his job — like when he was accused of excessive force for allegedly using a Taser on a man in a case of mistaken identity. Slager was cleared of wrongdoing in that case.
Sharpe gave her condolences to the Scott family, but said a shooting like Saturday’s affects loved ones on both sides.
"I pray for them, just like I pray for us. Nobody ever wants to see their child go before them," she said. "I understand that. And I understand that it's a terrible thing. So as one mother to another mother I can understand this.
"I just want them to know I’m sorry that this happened, and that this has made a change in everybody’s life."
— Phil Helsel