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Walter Scott Shooting: What They Said vs. What We Saw

How the police account differs from the video and a witness account.
/ Source: NBC News

When Feidin Santana, the eyewitness to the killing of Walter Scott, came forward on Wednesday and Thursday to tell his story, he cast additional doubt on the version of events originally given by police.

In interviews on “NBC Nightly News” and “Today” on NBC and on “Morning Joe” and “All In With Chris Hayes” on MSNBC, Santana provided additional detail about what he did and did not see in the minutes before and after the fatal encounter.

His account fails to support, and in some ways directly contradicts, the police account.


Police account: In the incident report, a police sergeant quoted Slager as telling a dispatcher: “Shots fired, and the subject is down. He took my Taser.” A recording of a dispatch call shows that Slager told the dispatcher: “Shots fired. Subject is down. He grabbed my Taser.” The report also says that Slager used his Taser during the encounter.

Video: The video does not show Scott taking the Taser. It shows him turning to run from the officer, with what appear to be Taser wires extending from his body, suggesting that Scott was hit with the stun gun. As Scott runs away, Slager fires eight bullets, felling Scott.

Witness: Santana said that there was a struggle between Scott and the officer. “They were down on the floor before I started recording,” he told Lester Holt. But he said that the officer “had control of the situation, and Scott was trying just to get away from the Taser.” Santana flatly said on “Today” that Scott did not grab the Taser.


Police account: The incident report says that officers at the scene performed CPR and first aid on Scott.

Video: The video does not appear to show any officer performing CPR. It does appear to show Slager bending to check Scott for a pulse. It shows a second officer, in sanitary medical gloves, tending to Scott, and later a third officer arriving with what appears to be a medical kit.

Witness: Santana said on “Morning Joe” that he saw one officer lift Scott’s shirt, apparently to check a wound. He said that he did not see any officer performing a live-saving technique. “I don’t know if they did it after I left, but I never saw that,” he said. His lawyer, Todd Rutherford, said on “Today”: “In the five minutes afterwards, he never saw them do any life-saving tehcniques at all, including CPR.”


— Erin McClam