Walter Scott always wanted to be famous. He used to tell his friends he could’ve made it as a singer.
His voice was buttery smooth and soulful, like Marvin Gaye’s or Luther Vandross’. He liked oldies, disco, house music — anything you could dance to. If Scott were to record an album, he’d belt out gospel ballads or croon rhythm and blues. And he didn’t mind stepping on stage.
He sang solos in the choir at W.O.R.D. Ministries Christian Center.
He performed the national anthem at his graduation from Miller-Motte Technical College.
On the last Friday in March, one of the last nights they spent together, he sang “Sara Smiles” by Hall & Oates as he and his cousin, Romaine Scott, drove home at 1 a.m. from her brother’s house.
Easy-going. Always smiling. Outgoing yet soft-spoken. They’d laugh until their sides hurt. After his death earlier this month, Romaine met so many people who called Scott their “best friend.” He had a way, she said, of making everyone feel special.
So when his family and friends heard the news that Scott had been killed by a North Charleston cop in what should have been a routine traffic stop, they were in disbelief. Scott had gotten into some scuffles when he was younger, but there was no way, they said, he wrestled a Taser from an officer. “That’s not Walter,” Romaine remembers saying.
And she knew the truth eventually would come out, just not in the way it did. Watching the video footage, captured on a bystander’s cellphone, was like seeing the Twin Towers fall, she said. Scott was running from Patrolman Michael Slager. Eight shots rang out. Five bullets struck, four in the back and one in the ear. His body jerked. He crumpled to the ground.
Talk to any of his Scott’s closest friends and family members and here’s what you’ll quickly find out:
He was a fervent Dallas Cowboys fan, but his game was dominoes. A self-proclaimed “master,” Scott played the game religiously with his friends. He carried a tin box of them wherever he went. He even had a special Dallas Cowboys set that he kept locked in a glass curio on display.
He was an honest player, but he talked a lot of trash.
“I’m gonna shut you out! Now watch,” he’d say. “I’m gonna make you eat those bones!”
Scott wasn’t much of a cook either, but he was a big eater. He loved macaroni and cheese, spare ribs, ham and Church’s fried chicken. He could eat an entire roll of Jimmy Dean sausage by himself.
He had recently proposed to a woman named Charlotte. They’d been together for five years and most people assumed they were married. They were inseparable. He was Charlotte’s “knight in shining armor,” Romaine said, who had rescued her from a bad relationship. And Charlotte was the love of his life. They called each other “baby” and “boo boo.” When Scott played dominoes with his friends, Charlotte would wrap her arms around his neck. As they walked somewhere together, he kept his hand on the small of her back. And he loved her two daughters as his own.
One day, Scott dreamed he would rent an RV, load up all of his children, four biological kids and “stepdaughters” included, and take them to Disney World. He didn’t have much money, but he did what he could.
John Singletary, a local photographer, remembers meeting Scott some years ago at Father to Father, a program to help men who had fallen behind on their child support payments. Singletary was an employment specialist there and Scott had recently been released from jail for not making his payments. Singletary helped Scott get a job at a construction company. Scott was “elated,” Singletary said. He could tell Scott wanted to be a better father.
When Scott was pulled over on Saturday, April 4, in a used Mercedes he had recently purchased, Romaine said she could picture what he must have been thinking. He had just taken his co-worker at Brown Distribution, 30-year-old Pierre Fulton, to a food pantry at a nearby church so Fulton could get food for his family. He was taking Fulton home.
After the officer approached Scott’s car, Romaine imagined her cousin sitting in his seat, shaking in fear. He didn’t want to go to jail. He had a fiancee and children to provide for, a job he couldn’t afford to lose.
He needed to be home. As the officer walked back to his car, Scott cracked open the driver-side door.
And then he ran.
Scott was a middle child, but he was his “momma’s baby,” as his older brother Anthony put it. He was born pigeon-toed and wore special shoes to correct his gait, but he still managed to keep up with his brothers.
He went to C.E. Williams Middle School and St. Andrew’s Parish High School, where he represented the “Rocks” on the football team. He played at the YWCA after school and went to “Operation Shipmate,” a mentorship program for inner city kids, at the Naval Base every summer. He called Anthony the “best big brother in the world,” and Anthony said he was Scott’s “protector.” And Scott, just like his brothers, was something of a troublemaker. At their two-story house on Meadowlawn Drive in North Charleston, Rodney remembers how Scott used to duck out of chores and put off washing his dishes until minutes before their mom got home from work.
On a recent Tuesday, just before noon, the Rev. George Hamilton, Scott’s pastor for the last 18 years, paid a visit to Judy and Walter Scott Sr. at that same house. They stood in the living room, held hands, and prayed.
“Bring them closure,” Hamilton said. “Find peace in what had taken place.” He asked God to “intervene into their hearts” and forgive the officer who killed their son.
“Unless we forgive others,” he said. “God will not forgive us.”
But for Romaine, forgiveness isn’t easy. That ugly video replays in her head. Charlotte can’t go in the bedroom she shared with Scott, so she sleeps on a chair in the living room. Sometimes Romaine catches her boyfriend, one of Scott’s closest friends, sighing quietly to himself.
Romaine still waits for Scott to knock on the door, to give her a call so they can all play a game of dominoes at his house under the carport.
“In church, they said it was ‘divine sacrifice.’ That this was what needed to happen for people’s eyes to be opened and things to be revealed, but I don’t believe that,” Romaine said. “I believe he’s just as angry and pissed off and mad that his life was taken away from him like that. ... There’s nothing that justifies that.”
Reach Deanna Pan at 937-5764. Cynthia Roldan contributed to this story.