The police officer who killed Walter Scott in South Carolina laughed about the adrenaline rush he was feeling, in a conversation that offers a new insight into his mindset in the minutes after the shooting.
Patrolman Michael Slager made the remarks during a discussion with a senior officer after fatally shooting Scott in North Charleston on 5 April. A recording of their conversation is below.
“By the time you get home, it would probably be a good idea to kind of jot down your thoughts on what happened,” the senior officer said. “You know, once the adrenaline quits pumping.”
“It’s pumping,” Slager said, laughing. The senior officer replied: “Oh yeah. Oh yeah.”
The senior officer told Slager during the conversation to go home and relax, assuring him that he would not have to answer questions about the shooting for days.
Slager was charged with murder on Tuesday after authorities were given cellphone video showing the officer shot Scott eight times in the back as the 50-year-old ran away. The footage contradicted earlier claims by police that Scott had fled with Slager’s stun gun.
Asked whether the officer making the remarks in the recording was Slager, Thom Berry, a spokesman for the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division (SLED), which is investigating the shooting, said: “It appears that way. I have not been able to independently confirm it.”
A spokesman for North Charleston police did not respond to a request for comment.
Footage of Scott being stopped in his car minutes before the shooting by Slager over a broken brake light, which was recorded by the dashcam in Slager’s patrol car, was released to the media on Thursday.
That camera continued to record for another hour and captured the conversation between Slager and a senior officer. A cellphone call that Slager, 33, received about five minutes before his conversation with the senior officer was also partly recorded.
“Hey. Hey, everything’s OK, OK?” Slager said, after an iPhone ringtone was heard. Following an inaudible section, Slager then appeared to say: “He grabbed my taser, yeah. Yeah, he was running from me.”
Slager’s wife, Jamie, is eight months pregnant with their first child. Jamie Slager, 35, has two children from a previous marriage. The couple live together in the city of Hanahan, about six miles from North Charleston.
In the recording from the dashcam in Slager’s radio car, the officer can be heard asking: “What happens next?” The senior officer, whose identity is not clear from the recording, told him that he would be collected by other officers and taken to police headquarters.
“Probably once they get you there, we’ll take you home. Take your crap off, take your vest off, kind of relax for two or three.”
“It’ll be real quick,” he said. “They’re gonna tell you you’re gonna be out for a couple of days and you’ll come back and they’ll interview you then. They’re not going to ask you any kind of questions right now. They’ll take your weapon and we’ll go from there. That’s pretty much it.”
The senior officer again reassured Slager that he would not have to explain the shooting on the record immediately. “The last one we had, they waited a couple of days to interview officially, like, sit down and tell what happened,” he said.