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Walter Scott Shooting Follows Michael Brown and Other Fatal Cop Encounters

The officer who killed Scott, 50, was arrested for murder — a rare criminal charge for such police-involved deaths.
/ Source: NBC News

The deadly cop-involved shooting in North Charleston, South Carolina, of an apparently unarmed black man has has become the latest — and one of the most visually shocking — in a wave of fatal police confrontations gaining national attention.

Last August's shooting death of unarmed 18-year-old Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, was the most prominent in years — and touched off nightly unrest and a demand for police accountability in the majority black city, as well as invigorating a nationwide movement.

But Saturday's killing of 50-year-old Walter Scott yielded an uncommon outcome: The officer in the shooting, Michael Slager, was arrested Tuesday for murder. It is a rare criminal charge in these unarmed encounters.

Eric Garner, 43

What happened: NYPD officers surrounded Garner in Staten Island, N.Y., on July 17 to arrest him for peddling loose cigarettes. When he allegedly refused to be cuffed, Garner was taken down by an officer who put him in an apparent chokehold. He was eventually taken in an ambulance but died at the hospital.

Was it filmed: Yes — and Garner can be heard on the cell phone video saying, "I can't breathe."

Were there charges: The case was referred to a Staten Island grand jury, which in December declined to indict Daniel Pantaleo, the NYPD officer involved, of criminal wrongdoing. The Justice Department is continuing to investigate the case, but it remains unclear if it plans to press federal civil rights charges against the officer.

John Crawford III, 22

What happened: Crawford was walking around a Beavercreek, Ohio, Wal-Mart on Aug. 5 holding a store BB gun when other customers called police. Once they arrived, he was shot in the torso when authorities say he didn't respond to calls for him to drop the weapon.

Was it filmed: Yes.

Were there charges: A local grand jury in September decided not to indict the officer who shot Crawford, but his family has filed a federal lawsuit against police and the store.

Michael Brown, 18

What happened: On Aug. 9, Brown encountered Ferguson, Missouri, Police Officer Darren Wilson on a street, and the two ended up in a scuffle. Wilson said he feared for his life and shot Brown six times. Some witnesses say Brown had his hands in the air, while others say he appeared to by moving toward the officer.

Was it filmed: No.

Were there charges: A grand jury declined to indict Wilson and the Justice Department also said there was not enough evidence to support prosecuting Wilson for federal civil rights offenses. But the family has filed a wrongful death lawsuit against Wilson and the police department.

Tamir Rice, 12

What happened: Police were called to a Cleveland recreation center on Nov. 22 after reports that Tamir was brandishing a gun. Officers say Tamir was grabbing for the weapon in his waistband — but the firearm turned out to be a pellet gun.

Was it filmed: Yes — surveillance video showed Rice getting shot less than two seconds of officers arriving to the scene.

Were there charges: The two officers involved have been placed on administrative leave. Meanwhile, the Cuyahoga County Sheriff's Department has been conducting an independent review to present as evidence to a grand jury, which will decide whether or not to indict either of the officers. The family has also filed a wrongful death lawsuit. In response to the claim, the city wrote that Tamir's injuries were caused by him failing to "exercise due care" — language that officials later apologized for.

Akai Gurley, 28

What happened: Gurley was shot Nov. 20 in a stairwell of a Brooklyn, New York, housing complex by a rookie NYPD cop who accidentally discharged his .9 mm handgun, investigators said.

Was it filmed: No.

Were there charges: Peter Liang, the officer accused of shooting Gurley, was indicted in February, and has pleaded not guilty to manslaughter, criminally negligent homicide and other charges. Liang was released without a bail.

Charley Leundeu Keunang, 43

What happened: Keunang was a homeless man fatally shot by Los Angeles police officers during a struggle on March 1. Keunang, also known as Robinet and described as mentally ill, died from multiple gunshot wounds after three officers say they shot him when he tried to grab an officer's gun.

Was it filmed: Yes — on a bystander's cell phone.

Were there charges: No charges were announced, although a family spokesman said last month they planned to file a lawsuit claiming excessive force.

Tony Terrell Robinson Jr., 19

What happened: Robinson was shot by Madison, Wisconsin, Police Officer Matt Kenny on March 6 after Kenny followed Robinson, who had forced his way inside an apartment, police said. Authorities say Kenny was looking for Robinson after getting reports that a man was jumping in front of cars and had assaulted someone.

Was it filmed: No.

Were there charges: Kenny remains on paid administrative leave while the state Department of Justice's Division of Criminal Investigation reviews the shooting. Robinson's family on Monday held a news conference following the release of documents about his run-ins with police, and said there should be criminal charges against Kenny.