The bystander who recorded a South Carolina officer fatally shooting an unarmed black man eight times said the cop had control of the situation before he pulled out his gun, and that he had not heard the officer give a warning before he fired.
In an interview with NBC News, the witness, Feidin Santana, said he could hear North Charleston Police Officer Michael Slager deploying his Taser on Walter Scott when he pulled out his camera phone. He said the two were on the ground before he started filming.
"I remember the police had control of the situation," Santana said during the interview (above). "You can hear the sound of a Taser... I believe [Scott] was just trying to get away from the Taser."
In a separate interview with MSNBC's Craig Melvin, Santana said he did not hear the officer say anything before he fired his gun. Santana said he did not hear Scott say anything during the incident.
Slager was arrested Tuesday and charged with murder after the shooting, which occurred during a traffic stop on Saturday. Slager was charged only after the video was released, and the footage pulled the officer's own account of the incident into question.
Audio of Slager's call to dispatch was released today, and there are clear discrepancies between that audio and Santana's footage. Slager said he felt threatened because Scott allegedly reached for his Taser. Video evidence shows Slager dropping an object near Scott's body after the shooting.
Santana has reportedly said he waited to release the footage to see how Slager would report his actions.
"He wanted to see what reports were coming from the North Charleston Police Department because of the fact that they may have told the truth,” Walter Scott's brother told TIME on Wednesday. “And when they continued with the lies, he said, ‘I have to come forward.'”
Santana told MSNBC's Melvin that he read the police report and took issue with its account of what happened. Santana said that he went to the police station following the shooting to inform them that he had witnessed and recorded it. After being told to wait, Santana left without handing any information to the police after reconsidering the situation. Santana told Melvin that he didn't believe police would properly handle the video which prompted him to give it to Scott's family.
Santana also said he almost erased the footage, fearing that he'd be "in the same danger" for even possessing it. He told NBC News that he's emotional for everyone involved.
"It's not something that anyone can feel good about," he said. "[Slager] has his family... but he made a bad decision and you pay for your decisions in this life. There are other ways he could have used to get [Scott] arrested."
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