The family of a man who was shot and killed by a North Charleston police officer Saturday say they just want the truth to come out about what happened.
“We just would like for justice to be taken, for justice to be served, and we would like for the truth to come out so my brother can rest in peace,” said Anthony Scott of his younger brother Walter Scott, 50. “Whatever happened yesterday, that’s all we want is the truth, and we will go to any length to get it.”
Scott’s family gathered Sunday afternoon in an empty lot, where the shooting took place, with community activists for a press conference calling for community calm and law enforcement transparency during the investigative process.
The Charleston County Coroner’s Office officially identified Scott late Sunday afternoon. The State Law Enforcement Division is investigating the shooting, which has been described a traffic stop gone wrong at the corner of Remount and Craig roads.
The North Charleston Police Department has alleged that Scott fought with an officer over his Taser before deadly force was employed. No new details about the shooting have been released, including the identity of the officer involved and why he or she stopped Scott in the first place.
SLED spokesman Thom Berry said Sunday that those types of details would have to be released by the North Charleston Police Department.
North Charleston police spokesman Spencer Pryor said Sunday that more information would not be released until Monday. He offered no further comment.
James Johnson, president of the local chapter of the Rev. Al Sharpton’s National Action Network, said at Sunday’s conference that there were several questions the public needed answers to, including whether or not racial profiling was involved in the traffic stop and if all turn signals and brake lights worked on Scott’s car.
“We know that Mr. Scott was unarmed, that worries me and everyone in this community, that another unarmed black man has died — that is very troubling,” he said. “I want the family and community to know that National Action Network will not stop until we get these answers.”
Pryor, however, in a statement released Saturday, indicated that Scott may have been armed with the officer’s Taser when he was shot. He said there was a foot-pursuit and an officer deployed his department-issued Taser in an attempt to stop Scott, but it didn’t work.
The two then struggled over the device and Scott allegedly gained control of the Taser and attempted to use it against the officer before he opened fire.
Pastor Thomas Dixon called for the officer involved in the shooting to be placed on unpaid administrative leave.
He and Johnson also said there is a need for a North Charleston citizen’s review board to oversee police policy and weigh in on encounters like the one Saturday.
Dixon pointed out that in previous officer-involved shootings both locally and across the nation, law enforcement has gotten “strangely silent,” but he expects more this time.
“We are expecting them to speak and to speak loudly, as they have information they can supply the community so that we don’t have to leave things to speculation,” he said. “We don’t want the community to rally around in doubt and unbelief when there’s information that can be given to them that will keep them at least away from that agitated state.”
Dixon questioned why the officer couldn’t just let Scott go if he ran away during the traffic stop.
“You got his address and phone number, you know where he works at,” he said. “What says chase him down and then pull a gun and then all of a sudden that life is gone.”
Johnson and Edward Bryant III, president of the North Charleston branch of the NAACP, agreed and alluded to Scott having a non-violent history, but possibly owing money for child support.
“What’s wrong with issuing a bench warrant for back child support?” Bryant asked.
Johnson, Dixon and Bryant, along with North Charleston mayoral candidate Clifford Smith II, urged the community to remain calm during the investigation and said that riots and violence would not be tolerated.
“The family has expressed their wishes that this not escalate,” Dixon said. “This is not a Ferguson situation ... We wont let it become that.”
After the press conference, Scott’s friends and family gathered at the same spot around a flowered cross and flowers for a prayer vigil in his honor.
His cousin, Latoya Green, described his death as a shock and a great loss to his family. She said Scott was a loving family man who was always around his kids and had a great passion for sports.
“We don’t want to make this a black and white thing,” she said. “It’s just about living, sharing the community, sharing the world — we all bleed red.”
Reach Melissa Boughton at 937-5594 or at Twitter.com/mboughton