Hearing horrible news about a child is hard enough for any parent. But seeing it may be worse. Thanks to the video showing a white police officer shooting and killing an unarmed black man over the weekend, two mothers in South Carolina were exposed to images of events in their sons’ lives that both desperately wish had never happened.
On Saturday afternoon, North Charleston police officer Michael Slager shot eight bullets at Walter Scott as he fled. A witness, Feidin Santana, filmed the scene with his cellphone. Once the video was released to the public, Slager, 33, was charged with murder and fired from his job.
“When I looked at that tape, that was the most horrible thing I have ever seen. I am very, very upset concerning it,” Scott’s mother, Judy Scott, said Wednesday on ABC News’ “Good Morning America.” “I almost couldn’t look at it, to see my son running defenselessly, being shot. It just tore my heart to pieces. I pray that this never happens to another person.”
Later, she told CNN’s Anderson Cooper that after Santana released the video, she couldn’t force herself to watch the entire tape. “When I saw my son running, and I saw the policeman behind him, I couldn’t take it,” she said, as she started to cry. “I had to turn away. I couldn’t handle it.”
Newly released footage from a police car’s dashboard camera shows a relatively routine traffic stop. Santana’s video shows the key moments after Slager caught up to Scott. It begins as the two made physical contact, appearing to slap hands. Then an object fell to the ground. Scott turned and ran away. Slager pulled his handgun and fired eight shots — four hit Scott in the back and one pierced his heart, investigators said.
Slager’s mother, Karen Sharpe, said she hasn’t seen the video, and doesn’t want to. Nor, she said, has she read the newspapers or listened to what people are saying about her son.
“I’ve purposely not watched it,” she told ABC News on Thursday. “I just can’t watch it. … Maybe to some people, ‘Well, you’re just being in denial,’ but I’m sorry I just can’t.
“I know how Michael is. … He’s a very good person.”
Sharpe told NBC News she believes her son was just doing his job. “He was trained to do what he does and that’s his job,” she said. “I just feel he did his job, he did what he was supposed to do, and I can’t say anything else about that. That’s the way I feel.”
Both mothers seem sympathetic of the other, though each one is defensive of her own son.
Sharpe told ABC News that Slager “loved being a police officer” and she can’t imagine him doing anything to jeopardize his job or the rest of his life. “That’s just not like him; that’s not his character. It’s not,” she said.
She said her son and his wife are expecting a baby next month and, now that he’s behind bars, he’s missing memorable moments. She said she had to accompany his wife to a doctor’s appointment this week because he couldn’t be there.
“… I know that he would not do something purposeful to not be able to be there with his wife during the delivery,” she said. “They just tried so hard for this.”
Judy Scott said the same about her own son. She said she never believed Slager’s account because she knew her son would have never fought him for the Taser.
“I knew that that was not true because he knows how especially the North Charleston police conduct themselves,” she told Anderson Cooper. “He would not have jeopardized his life.”
Still, Judy Scott said she prays for the man who killed her son.
“I feel sad for the officer who did the shooting because he’s going to have to give an account for that,” she told ABC News. “And I pray that he would report to the Lord for what has happened. … I’ve lost a son that will never come back. We have his memories, but he will never come back. And I pray that this never happens to anybody else.”
Sharpe told NBC News that she is praying as well.
“I pray for them, just like I pray for us. Nobody ever wants to see their child go before them,” she said. “I understand that. And I understand that it’s a terrible thing. So as one mother to another mother I can understand this.
“I just want them to know I’m sorry that this happened, and that this has made a change in everybody’s life.”
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