The South Carolina police department that employs a white patrolman accused of murdering a black man is 80 percent white in a town that has only 37 percent white residents, based on 2007 data.
The demographics take on added significance in light of newly released video that shows Officer Michael Thomas Slager fatally shooting 50-year-old Walter Scott in the back as he flees.
The statistics, reported by the New York Times, also show that the town of North Charleston, South Carolina is 47 percent black. The stats on the police department are from 2007, the latest numbers available from the Department of Justice, according to the Times.
A human resources representative at the police department was unable to immediately provide updated demographic information when contacted by The Huffington Post.
Slager was charged with murder on Tuesday, shortly after video of the incident was obtained and released by the media.
The disproportionate number of whites on the force recalls the even more lopsided demographics of the town of Ferguson, Missouri and its police department. Ferguson is 67 percent black, but only three members of the 53-member police department are black, according to USA Today. The department was thrust into the spotlight after unarmed 18-year-old Michael Brown was shot and killed by officer Darren Wilson last year.
In Ferguson, a DOJ report found black residents were unfairly targeted for minor offenses. The report mirrored the complaints voiced by protesters in the shooting's aftermath.
Similarly, in 2012, the Post and Courier documented a rise in complaints from black residents in North Charleston who said they were being discriminated against and arrested for low-level crimes.
The paper recounts the story of Jamie Roper:
A North Charleston police officer first stopped Jamie Roper in the front yard of his Westview Street home. Roper had been speeding through the neighborhood just moments earlier, the officer said. Roper got a ticket for reckless driving.
Weeks later, Roper was inside a barbershop when he got another citation. When he walked outside, the same officer wrote him up for having loud music in his restored 1987 Chevrolet Camaro with orange paint and shiny rims.
“He spoke to me as if I wasn’t human,” Roper said. “He said he was going to get me. He said he was going to put his (police) dog on me.”
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