The North Charleston resident who complained about a police officer’s actions in a 2013 Taser incident said he thinks Walter L. Scott might have never been shot last weekend if internal investigators faulted the lawman for the ordeal, he said Thursday.
“(Scott) probably would be alive,” Mario Givens said in front of a crush of cameras, microphones and journalists. “If they investigated it, (the officer) wouldn’t have been in the field.”
Givens, 34, said Patrolman 1st Class Michael T. Slager pulled him from his Delaware Avenue house for no reason that September night as he wore boxers. Slager shocked him with a Taser.
Slager and another officer had been looking into a burglary report, but Givens wasn’t the man they were searching for, the victim of the alleged crime yelled to the police. Givens’ brother, rather, was the real suspect.
“He pulled the Taser out, and I threw my hands up,” Givens said. “He still tased me.”
Givens filed a complaint then, but internal affairs investigators from the North Charleston Police Department exonerated Slager. Givens didn’t pursue the issue through an attorney because, the lawyer he hired this week said, he didn’t know whom to trust.
In light of Scott’s death last weekend, police spokesman Spencer Pryor said the department likely would review Givens’ complaint. He had no timetable for such an inquiry.
Slager, 33, was on patrol Saturday when he stopped Scott’s car. After a struggle, Slager fatally shot Scott in the back, and he now faces a murder charge.
After watching a video of Scott’s death and getting contacted by The Post and Courier early Wednesday, Givens contacted North Charleston attorney Eduardo Curry, who will represent him in a likely lawsuit over the 2013 run-in.
In an incident report about the encounter, Slager wrote that he thought Givens was the burglary suspect because he had a sweaty T-shirt and didn’t want to step outside to talk. “I entered the home to detain the suspect due to the suspect retreating into the home,” Slager wrote.
The officer performed a takedown move, he wrote, struck Givens’ left leg and stunned his stomach with the Taser.
But after Slager spoke with the burglary victim, he realized Givens wasn’t the right man and released him.
Givens’ attorney called the press conference Thursday as chance for him to give his side of the ordeal. More information could be ferreted out in court, Curry said.
Givens spoke softly outside Curry’s Dorchester Road office. He nearly did not show up at all. Givens had turned around when he saw the horde of new media there and later returned at Curry’s urging.
Givens was bruised from the confrontation, he said, and the Taser hurt. He didn’t greatly detail how badly injured he was.
But, he said, he feared for his life when Slager threatened to use the Taser on him. When the officer followed through, Givens said he dropped to the ground and screamed.
“The officer had made a determination to do what he did,” Givens’ attorney said, “and he did it.”
Reach Andrew Knapp at 937-5414 or twitter.com/offlede.