A white former police officer was indicted on a murder charge on Monday over the fatal shooting of an unarmed black man in the back as he ran from a traffic stop in South Carolina, a prosecutor said.
Video of the shooting on April 4 was captured by a bystander on his cellphone and showed officer Michael Slager firing eight times as 50-year-old Walter Scott ran away.
"The jury will make up its own mind after it sees the video and hears the other testimony," prosecutor Scarlett Wilson said when announcing the indictment.
He said the video evidence alone will not guarantee a conviction, witness testimony also will be important.
"Just because you have video in this case, it doesn't mean it's the be-all and end-all," she told a news conference.
Slager would face between 30 years and life in prison without the possibility of parole in the case of convicted of murder, said prosecutor Wilson, adding that no trial date has been set yet.
The fatal encounter took place on April 4 when Scott was driving a black Mercedes-Benz when Slager pulled him over for a broken tail light. After what first appeared to be routine interaction between a driver and an officer, Scott emerged and ran off, apparently unarmed.
The subsequent video recorded by a dashboard camera in Slager’s patrol car showed the police officer firing eight times towards Scott and killing him.
Scott’s shooting prompted calls for police reform in South Carolina’s third-largest city and reignited a public outcry over police conduct and law enforcement’s use of lethal force against minority groups.
Last year saw the deaths of unarmed black men during confrontations with police in Ferguson, Missouri, New York City, Baltimore and elsewhere, which spawned protests and occasional violent outbursts across the United States.
Several of the well-known cases include the deaths of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, Eric Garner in New York City and most recently Freddie Gray in Baltimore, Maryland.