US city reaches settlement with family of black motorist shot in back

Mrs Judy Scott, mother of Walter Scott, gives an emotional plea to deny bond during a hearing for former police officer Michael Slager, in Charleston, South Carolina on Sept 10, 2015.
Mrs Judy Scott, mother of Walter Scott, gives an emotional plea to deny bond during a hearing for former police officer Michael Slager, in Charleston, South Carolina on Sept 10, 2015. PHOTO: REUTERS

WASHINGTON (AFP) - The family of a black US motorist shot dead by a white police officer and the city of North Charleston, South Carolina, agreed to a settlement, the city's mayor said.

The city council voted to approve the US$6.5 million (S$9.1 million) settlement Thursday (Oct 8), Mayor Keith Summey said in a statement.

Walter Scott was shot in the back five times as he tried to run away from city police officer Michael Slager on April 4 after being pulled over, reportedly for a broken brake light.

Slager, 33, was arrested and charged with murder three days after video of the incident emerged.

Summey called the settlement "a step in the right direction." "This is a very difficult period for the Scott family. I know they are glad to have this part behind them so their healing process can continue," the statement read.

The death of Scott, who was 50 at the time of his death, set off protests in the city and followed a string of highly publicised incidents of police violence against African Americans around the country.

"As a result of this tragedy, important issues have been discussed, not only in North Charleston, but around the country," Summey said.

He noted governments are becoming more responsive to citizens' complaints, police departments are building tighter relationships with communities and, in North Charleston, police are starting to wear body cameras to record their interactions with citizens.