Civil Rights Groups in South Carolina Ask U.S. to Investigate Killings by Police

This photo provided by the Charleston County, S.C., Sheriff's Office shows Patrolman Michael Thomas Slager on Tuesday, April 7, 2015. Slager has been charged with murder in the shooting death of a black motorist after a traffic stop. North Charleston Mayor Keith Summey told a news conference that city Slager was arrested and charged Tuesday after law enforcement officials saw a video of the shooting following a Saturday traffic stop. (AP Photo/Charleston County Sheriff's Office)
Officer Clarence Habersham, right, stands over Walter Scott with Michael Slager. (Screengrab from eyewitness Feidin Santana's video)
Officer Clarence Habersham, right, stands over Walter Scott with Officer Michael Slager. (Screengrab from eyewitness Feidin Santana’s video)

Benjamin Mueller, THE NEW YORK TIMES

NORTH CHARLESTON, S.C. (The New York Times) — Civil rights groups in North Charleston, S.C., asked the United States Department of Justice on Friday to investigate all fatal shootings by police officers in Charleston County in the last 21 years.

The request by the North Charleston N.A.A.C.P., the Tri-County National Action Network and the Coalition (People United to Take Back Our Community) at a news conference at North Charleston City Hall, reflected a suspicion among activists that the police had been working to conceal the circumstances surrounding the death of a black man, Walter L. Scott, on April 4 before a cellphone video emerged showing that a white police officer shot him in the back as he fled.

The groups said they believed that other officers who shot and killed Charleston County residents in the last two decades escaped prosecution only because similarly stark evidence had not surfaced.

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