People around the nation have reacted with shock and horror after video surfaced Tuesday showing the killing of Walter Scott by a South Carolina police officer -- but none have had to grapple with the harsh reality of his death more than his bereaved family.
When relatives reflect even briefly on their memories of the 50-year-old "family man," as they describe him, they are immediately brought to tears. Emotions run high as they recall Scott planning to purchase a big van for a family trip to Disney Land, plotting to take his four kids on their first cruise -- and, tragically, how memories like these are now all they have left.
“Every time I think about it, just small things, talking to my brother, we won’t be able to do it ever again,” Rodney Scott, Walter’s younger brother, told MSNBC’s Joy Reid. “He’s gone forever. I love my brother, he was my best friend.”
Family members say they've been left “grossly traumatized” after video surfaced showing Scott’s killing by police officer Michael Slager. Slager shot Scott, who was unarmed, four times in the back and once in the ear as he was fleeing. In the video, Scott's body is then seen buckling and bending before ultimately falling face down to the ground.
The family is planning on filing a civil lawsuit against Slager, the police department and the city.
“We will seek every penny of compensation that the family deserves,” Justin Bamberg, the lawyer representing Scott’s family, told the New York Daily News.
The killing was captured on a cellphone by Feidin Santana, a witness who happened to walk by as the incident occurred. The family was the first to watch the video -- and they hail Santana as a hero for the courage he displayed.
“For the gentleman behind the camera, that’s my brother,” Rodney told MSNBC. “I mean he’s a definite hero, to come, stand forth and do what he did, he will never ever be forgotten.”
There are many other things the family says will not be forgotten -- among them, Scott's mother says, are his frequent phone calls, and him calling her “his smurf.”
“I don’t know why, but he gave me that nickname: his smurf,” Judy Scott, told reporters. “Everybody loved him.”
Memories elicit painful emotions from the family, who continue to grieve as they reflect on Scott’s outgoing personality, his presence at family gatherings and his love for the Dallas Cowboys, among other things. Scott gathered with the family two weeks ago for a surprise event celebrating his parents' 50th wedding anniversary.
Scott had served four years in the Coast Guard and was honorably discharged. He had proposed to his long-time girlfriend weeks before his death and was engaged.
“He had a very good relationship with his children. The older two had a different mother, who is deceased,” Anthony Scott, Walter's older brother, told CNN. “But he brought them together as brothers and sisters and there was no separation. Now they have lost their father.”
Scott’s brothers say satisfaction will only come from one thing: a guilty verdict against Slager.
“I won’t be satisfied until I hear a guilty verdict,” Anthony Scott, Walter Scott’s older brother, told MSNBC. “That’s when I’ll be satisfied.”
While the brothers hope Slager will be held fully accountable, Rodney says he forgives Slager because, he said, Slager will have God to answer to.
“I don't want to see any other family going through what we’re going through,” Rodney said. “All I pray is that God help my family get through [this]. But I’m broken, I am really broken.”
A funeral for Scott will be held on Saturday in Summerville, South Carolina.
CORRECTION: A previous version of this article stated that Scott was shot in the back eight times. Slager fired eight shots, but Scott was hit four times in the back and once in the ear.
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