Family of man shot dead by US officer calls for change

NORTH CHARLESTON, United States (AFP) - The brother of a black man shot dead by a white officer in South Carolina said Thursday he hopes his death will spark change and is calling for accountability among police.

Walter Scott, 50, was killed Saturday as he was running from an officer who pulled his gun and fired eight shots, five of which hit him.

A bystander caught the incident on camera and the officer, Michael Slager, 33, was later charged with murder and fired from the force.

Walter's brother, Anthony Scott, demanded changes in the force after his brother's death.

"There has to be accountability for officers, and they have to think twice about firing their firearms and shooting down people," he told AFP.

"They have to think about those things before taking the life of someone senselessly, senselessly gunning down a person."

Slager had stopped Walter Scott for a routine traffic violation over a broken taillight.

It is not clear what happened before Slager opened fire, but Anthony Scott said he was grateful for the video and hopes the incident will provoke reform.

"He may just have been another victim... and we don't want him to be just another victim."

"Something has to be done," Anthony Scott urged.

North Charleston mayor Keith Summey said the police department would buy body cameras for officers to wear to help investigate shootings.

A lawyer for the Scott family called for all North Charleston officers to be outfitted with the body cameras, as a matter of public safety.

"That's protection for the officers and for citizens, because now an officer can say 'look at my body camera, I didn't do anything wrong,'" Chris Stewart told AFP.

"Or a citizen can say 'I was abused, look at the body camera footage.' That's phenomenal."

CROWDFUNDING FOR SLAGER

There were peaceful protests in North Charleston Wednesday, and a candlelight vigil was held for Scott, a father of four, in the evening.

Walter Scott's father, also called Walter, said his son may have been running from the officer because he owed child support and did not want to return to jail.

The killing has sparked an outcry and reignited a debate about excessive police force and race relations in the United States.

A funeral for Scott is scheduled to take place on Saturday.

An online fundraising campaign was launched to support charged officer Slager, who has two stepchildren and is expecting a child with his current partner.

It faced an immediate social media backlash.

The fund on Indiegogo raised US$440 (S$600) in its first day, with 21 people contributing and said it aimed to reach the US$5,000 mark.

"We're campaigning to show our support for officer Michael T Slager!" the fundraising page said.

"Although he may have made missteps in judgment he was protecting the community... please help in any way you can. He has served five years with the department without being disciplined."

But another crowdfunding site GoFundMe had taken down a campaign seeking support for Slager, saying it violated its terms and conditions, according to ThinkProgress.