The first officer to get to Walter Scott after he was shot multiple times and collapsed face-down knelt by him, checked his pulse, donned rubber gloves and began holding his hands to his wounds.
North Charleston Patrolman 1st Class Clarence Habersham is the other figure in the widely publicized phone video of the shooting. Habersham does not appear in the video until after the gunfire and officer Michael Slager has handcuffed Scott on the ground and returned to where he fired to pick something up.
Slager has been charged with murder in the shooting.
Habersham’s two-line supplement to the incident report says very little, except that he applied pressure to the gunshot wounds “and directed the best route for EMS and fire to take to get to the victim faster.” When other officers arrived, they noted in their supplemental reports, Habersham was administering first aid.
The officer who went down on one knee to render aid to Scott is a veteran policeman about whom not much is publicly known. He was among five North Charleston police officers sued for an alleged incident in which a man claims that police stomped on his face in the course of an arrest.
The officers have been dismissed as defendants in state court, said Sandra Senn, attorney for the North Charleston Police Department, and that action is being pursued in federal court.
According to the plaintiff, Habersham was one of the officers who found him hiding under a mattress in a motel in 2011 and attacked him as they were handcuffing him. The plaintiff, Sheldon Williams, had bones broken in his face, the lawsuit alleges.
“Defendants Byrum, Fogel, Habersham, Beckman, Kruger and other officers pinned Plaintiff to the concrete floor, trapping him within the bedframe, repeatedly stomping on his face and/or allowing other officers to stomp on his face while plaintiff was handcuffed,” the lawsuit states.
But in 2014, Williams agreed to dismiss the officers from the case, as well as “assault, battery, conspiracy, intentional infliction of emotional distress” as causes of action, according to court documents. Williams continues to sue the police department for gross negligence.
Habersham is in his late 30s. He has been a North Charleston officer since 2007, certified at the S.C. Criminal Justice Academy in 2010. A survey of about a dozen neighborhood leaders found only one or two who knew who he is. None of them has had more than a passing acquaintance with him, except for a former city employee, who would not talk because the recent shooting incident is under investigation.
In the video, Habersham appears to be talking mostly into his shoulder microphone, but it isn’t audible.
Reach Bo Petersen at 937-5744 or @bopete on Twitter.