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'I Was Sickened By What I Saw,' Police Chief Says Of S.C. Shooting

Discussing the case of a North Charleston, S.C., police officer shooting an unarmed man in the back, police chief Eddie Driggers said Wednesday, "I have been praying for peace."

Driggers and North Charleston Mayor Keith Summey discussed the case in which Officer Michael Thomas Slager, 33, is charged with murder for shooting and killing Walter Scott, 50, after a traffic stop. Bystander video from the scene shows that Scott was running away from Slager when he was shot — and it has prompted many to question both Slager's account and a police dispatch recording.

Summey said that he and his wife, along with Driggers, visited the family of Walter Scott Wednesday morning. Calling them "a wonderful, down-to-earth family, a wonderful group of people," Summey said that they had gone to extend condolences and a promise of support.

Summey said the city had received a grant to buy 100 body cameras.

"Those body cameras are on order," Summey said. He then said the city had ordered an additional 150 body cameras, so all of the officers would have one.

Summey also said that although Slager has been fired and is in jail, the city will continue to pay his family's health insurance. Citing the former officer's wife, who is eight months pregnant, the mayor called the decision "the humane thing for us to do."

Later, when the police chief was asked whether first aid had been administered to Scott, as was claimed by Slager, Driggers told the audience of reporters and members of the public that he wanted to speak from the heart about the incident, and about what he saw in the video.

"I was sickened by what I saw. And I have not watched it since," Driggers said.

He added that at the end of the video, he saw an officer remove Scott's shirt, seemingly to employ potentially lifesaving procedures.

"But I'm not sure what took place there," he added.

"Not every officer is CPR-certified," the mayor later said, prompting some in the room to yell, "Why not?"

Driggers refused to elaborate on some questions, citing the ongoing investigation by other South Carolina agencies that were asked to look into the shooting.

Responding to a question about what other officers might have seen of the incidents that transpired after Scott tried to flee on foot, the chief said, "To my knowledge, nobody was witness to anything" except for Slager.

The news conference was interrupted several times by chants from protesters who chanted "No justice, no peace."

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Bill Chappell is a writer and editor on the News Desk in the heart of NPR's newsroom in Washington, D.C.
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