Minister: Shooting of black man by white officer racist

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SUMMERVILLE, S.C. (AP) - The death of a black man shot in the back while fleeing a white police officer was the act of a racist cop, a minister told hundreds who gathered Saturday for the funeral of Walter Scott.

"All of us have seen the video," the Rev. George Hamilton, the minister at W.O.R.D. Ministries Christian Center, told an overflow congregation. "There is no doubt in my mind and I feel that Walter's death was motivated by racial prejudice." Authorities have not said whether race was a factor in the shooting.

Scott was a father of four and Coast Guard veteran whose death sparked outrage as another instance of a white law officer fatally shooting an unarmed black man under questionable circumstances. The shooting last weekend in North Charleston was captured on a dramatic cellphone camera video by a man who was walking past.

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Minister: Shooting of black man by white officer racist
SUMMERVILLE, SC - APRIL 11: A young child walks among mourners as they attend the funeral service for Walter Scott at the W.O.R.D. Ministries Christian Center, after he was fatally shot by a North Charleston police officer after fleeing a traffic stop in North Charleston on April 11, 2015 in Summerville, South Carolina. Mr. Scott was killed on April 4 by North Charleston police officer Michael T. Slager after a traffic stop. The officer now faces murder charges. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)
SUMMERVILLE, SC - APRIL 11: Judy Scott is greeted after the funeral for her son Walter Scott, at the W.O.R.D. Ministries Christian Center, after he was fatally shot by a North Charleston police officer after fleeing a traffic stop in North Charleston on April 11, 2015 in Summerville, South Carolina. Mr. Scott was killed on April 4 by North Charleston police officer Michael T. Slager after a traffic stop. The officer now faces murder charges. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)
US Senator Tim Scott (R), R-SC, departs following the funeral of Walter Scott at WORD Ministries Christian Center in Summerville , South Carolina on April 11, 2015. Hundreds of mourners gathered Saturday for the funeral of Walter Scott, an unarmed black suspect who was shot dead by a white officer in South Carolina as he fled following a routine traffic stop. Scott's death, which a bystander caught on video, has reignited debates about excessive police force and race relations in the United States. Scott's body arrived, where family, friends, politicians and law enforcement gathered to bury the 50-year-old father of four. AFP PHOTO/JIM WATSON (Photo credit should read JIM WATSON/AFP/Getty Images)
Pallbearers carry the casket of Walter Scott out from the W.O.R.D. Ministries Christian Center following his funeral in Summerville, S.C. on Saturday, April 11, 2015. Scott was killed a week earlier by a North Charleston police officer after a traffic stop. The officer, Michael Slager, has been charged with murder. (AP Photo/David Goldman)
Rep. Mark Sanford, R-S.C., leaves the funeral for Walter Scott in Summerville, S.C. on Saturday, April 11, 2015. Scott was fatally shot a week earlier by a North Charleston police officer after a traffic stop. Officer Michael Slager has been charged with murder. (AP Photo/David Goldman)
Mourners arrive at the World Outreach Revival Deliverance Ministries Christian Center before the funeral service in Summerville, S.C., Saturday, April 11, 2015 for Walter Scott, who was killed by a North Charleston, S.C., police officer last Saturday after a traffic stop. The officer, Michael Thomas Slager, has been fired and charged with murder. (AP Photo/Chuck Burton)
Anthony Scott, right, the brother of Walter Scott, looks out from a car while sitting with their father, Walter Scott Sr., following his brother's funeral in Summerville, S.C. on Saturday, April 11, 2015. Scott was fatally shot a week earlier by a North Charleston police officer after a traffic stop. Officer Michael Slager has been charged with murder. (AP Photo/David Goldman)
In this April 4, 2015, frame from dashboard video provided by the North Charleston Police Department, Patrolman Michael Thomas Slager stands by Walter Lamer Scott's car during a traffic stop in North Charleston, S.C. The video captures the moments leading up to a fatal shooting that has sparked outrage as the latest example of a white police officer killing an unarmed black man. Slager has been fired and charged with murder. (AP Photo/North Charleston Police Department)
In this April 4, 2015, frame from dash cam video provided by the North Charleston Police Department, Walter Lamer Scott leaves his car after a traffic stop in North Charleston, S.C. The video captures the moments leading up to a fatal shooting that has sparked outrage as the latest example of a white police officer killing an unarmed black man. The officer, Patrolman Michael Thomas Slager, has been fired and charged with murder. (AP Photo/North Charleston Police Department)
In this April 4, 2015, frame from dash cam video provided by the North Charleston Police Department, Walter Lamer Scott leaves his car after a traffic stop in North Charleston, S.C. The video captures the moments leading up to a fatal shooting that has sparked outrage as the latest example of a white police officer killing an unarmed black man. The officer, Patrolman Michael Thomas Slager, has been fired and charged with murder. (AP Photo/North Charleston Police Department)
In this April 4, 2015, frame from dash cam video provided by the North Charleston Police Department, Walter Lamer Scott, left, appears to run away from Patrolman Michael Thomas Slager after a traffic stop in North Charleston, S.C. The video captures the moments leading up to a fatal shooting that has sparked outrage as the latest example of a white police officer killing an unarmed black man. Slager has been fired and charged with murder. (AP Photo/North Charleston Police Department)
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)
Rodney Scott, left, and his brother, Anthony Scott, appear at a news conference in Charleston, S.C., on Tuesday, April 7, 2015. The brother of the two men, Walter Lamer Scott, was shot and killed by a white North Charleston police officer following a traffic stop in that city on April 4. Authorities announced Tuesday that the officer has been charged with murder in the case. (AP Photo/Bruce Smith)
NORTH CHARLESTON, SC - APRIL 10: A passer-by looks on at the site where Walter Scott was killed on April 4th by a North Charleston police officer on April 10, 2015 in North Charleston, South Carolina. Mr. Scott was killed by North Charleston police officer Michael T. Slager after a traffic stop and the officer now faces murder charges. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)
NORTH CHARLESTON, SC - APRIL 10: A memorial is seen through a fence marking the site where Walter Scott was killed on April 4th by a North Charleston police officer on April 10, 2015 in North Charleston, South Carolina. Mr. Scott was killed by North Charleston police officer Michael T. Slager after a traffic stop and the officer now faces murder charges. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)
Jerome Flood, of James Island, S.C., pauses for a moment of silence at the scene the killing of Walter Scott by a North Charleston police officer Saturday after a traffic stop in North Charleston, S.C., Friday, April 10, 2015. Scott was best man at Flood's wedding and Flood said he wanted to see where it happened. The officer, Michael Thomas Slager, has been fired and charged with murder. (AP Photo/Chuck Burton)
Tiffany Williams (C), a childhood friend of Walter Scott, the 50-year-old man who was shot as he ran away from an officer after a traffic stop, is hugged by Project Street Outreach Manager Denise Cromwell, as she breaks down while visiting the spot where Scott was killed in Charleston, South Carolina on April 9, 2015. The shooting is America's latest high-profile police killing of a black man by white officers. A string of such shootings of unarmed victims, where officers are rarely charged, have sparked protests around the country with demonstrators alleging racism in the nation's police forces. AFP PHOTO/JIM WATSON (Photo credit should read JIM WATSON/AFP/Getty Images)
Joe Gilliard, of Summerville, S.C., looks over a fence toward the scene where Walter Scott was killed by a North Charleston police officer Saturday after a traffic stop in North Charleston, S.C., Thursday, April 9, 2015. The officer, Michael Thomas Slager, has been fired and charged with murder. (AP Photo/David Goldman)
Chasyn Carter, right, of North Charleston, S.C., embraces Candice Ancrum, of Summerville, S.C., during a candlelight vigil outside city hall protesting the shooting death of Walter Lamer Scott, Wednesday, April 8, 2015, in North Charleston, S.C. Scott was killed by a North Charleston police office after a traffic stop on Saturday. The officer, Michael Thomas Slager, has been fired and charged with murder. (AP Photo/David Goldman)
Demonstrators pause for a moment of silence to protest the shooting death of Walter Scott at city hall in North Charleston, S.C., Wednesday, April 8, 2015. Scott was killed by a North Charleston police office after a traffic stop on Saturday. The officer, Michael Thomas Slager, has been charged with murder. (AP Photo/Chuck Burton)
NORTH CHARLESTON, SC - APRIL 08: People participate in a rally to protest the death of Walter Scott, who was killed by police in a shooting, outside City Hall on April 8, 2015 in North Charleston, South Carolina. Video captured by a bystander showed officer Michael Slager shooting Scott as he ran away. Officer Slager has been charged with murder as a result of the incident. (Photo by Richard Ellis/Getty Images)
After watching the video, the senseless shooting and taking of #WalterScott's life was absolutely unnecessary and avoidable. (1/2)
My heart aches for the family and our North Charleston community. I will be watching this case closely. (2/2)
NORTH CHARLESTON, SC - APRIL 08: People participate in a rally to protest the death of Walter Scott, who was killed by police in a shooting, outside City Hall on April 8, 2015 in North Charleston, South Carolina. Video captured by a bystander showed officer Michael Slager shooting Scott as he ran away. Officer Slager has been charged with murder as a result of the incident. (Photo by Richard Ellis/Getty Images)
NORTH CHARLESTON, SC - APRIL 08: People participate in a rally to protest the death of Walter Scott, who was killed by police in a shooting, outside City Hall on April 8, 2015 in North Charleston, South Carolina. Video captured by a bystander showed officer Michael Slager shooting Scott as he ran away. Officer Slager has been charged with murder as a result of the incident. (Photo by Richard Ellis/Getty Images)
NORTH CHARLESTON, SC - APRIL 08: A family friend of Walter Scott, who was killed by police in a shooting, breaks down during a rally outside City Hall on April 8, 2015 in North Charleston, South Carolina. Video captured by a bystander showed officer Michael Slager shooting Scott as he ran away. Officer Slager has been charged with murder as a result of the incident. (Photo by Richard Ellis/Getty Images)
Recap of the press conference: https://t.co/342hrODMkF #WalterScott
RT @celmorePC: Chief Driggers and other officers standing by #chsnews #WalterScott http://t.co/0lR9xN2EZg
Anthony Scott holds a photo of himself, center, and his brothers Walter Scott, left, and Rodney Scott, right, as he talks about his brother at his home near North Charleston, S.C., Wednesday, April 8, 2015. Walter Scott was killed by a North Charleston police officer after a traffic stop on Saturday. The officer, Michael Thomas Slager, has been charged with murder. (AP Photo/Chuck Burton)
Officer Michael Slager fired 8 shots toward #WalterScott, Attorney says 4 hit him, 2 fatal: http://t.co/y8mqwG3zD6 http://t.co/LkwfB2SwQc
A man holds a sign during a protest for the shooting death of Walter Scott at city hall in North Charleston, S.C., Wednesday, April 8, 2015. Scott was killed by a North Charleston police officer after a traffic stop on Saturday. The officer, Michael Thomas Slager, has been charged with murder. (AP Photo/Chuck Burton)
Anthony Scott, left, hugs visitors outside his home near North Charleston, S.C., Wednesday, April 8, 2015. Scott's brother Walter Scott, was killed by a North Charleston police officer after a traffic stop on Saturday. The officer, Michael Thomas Slager, has been charged with murder. (AP Photo/Chuck Burton)
NORTH CHARLESTON, SC - APRIL 08: People participate in a rally to protest the death of Walter Scott, who was killed by police in a shooting, outside City Hall on April 8, 2015 in North Charleston, South Carolina. Video captured by a bystander showed officer Michael Slager shooting Scott as he ran away. Officer Slager has been charged with murder as a result of the incident. (Photo by Richard Ellis/Getty Images)
NORTH CHARLESTON, SC - APRIL 08: People participate in a rally to protest the death of Walter Scott, who was killed by police in a shooting, outside City Hall on April 8, 2015 in North Charleston, South Carolina. Video captured by a bystander showed officer Michael Slager shooting Scott as he ran away. Officer Slager has been charged with murder as a result of the incident. (Photo by Richard Ellis/Getty Images)
Robert Jackson holds a sign during a protest in shooting death of Walter Scott at city hall in North Charleston, S.C., Wednesday, April 8, 2015. Scott was killed by a North Charleston police office after a traffic stop on Saturday. The officer, Michael Thomas Slager, has been charged with murder. (AP Photo/Chuck Burton)
Charleston County Sheriff Al Cannon, center, talks to a woman as he arrives at the World Outreach Revival Deliverance Ministries Christian Center before the funeral service in Summerville, S.C., Saturday, April 11, 2015 for Walter Scott, who was killed by a North Charleston, S.C., police officer last Saturday after a traffic stop. The officer, Michael Thomas Slager, has been fired and charged with murder. (AP Photo/Chuck Burton)
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About 450 people including U.S. Sen. Tim Scott, R-S.C., and U.S. Rep. Jim Clyburn, D-S.C., the two black members of South Carolina's congressional delegation, gathered in the sanctuary of the church where Scott had worshipped.

About 200 more people waited outside beneath the portico of the church or under umbrellas in the rain because the sanctuary had reached capacity.

Hamilton called Michael Slager - the officer involved in the shooting and who has been charged with murder and fired - a disgrace to the North Charleston Police Department.

"This particular cop was a racist. You don't Tase a man and then shoot," the minister said. But he added "we will not indict the entire law enforcement community for the act of one racist."

Hamilton said that the Scott family could take comfort in the fact that Slager was captured on the video, was charged and will face justice.

Scott was remembered as a gentle soul and a born-again Christian. "He was not perfect," the minister said, adding that nobody is.

The two-hour service included spirituals and remembrances of the 50-year-old Scott.

Those who waited outside were able to enter at the end of the service and file by Scott's open casket covered in an American flag and surrounded with sprays of flowers.

Scott's family arrived in a fleet of three black limousines followed by several other vehicles. Dozens who were waiting outside held up their cellphones trying to capture the scene as Scott's casket was unloaded from the hearse and wheeled inside.

"You know, Walter touched a lot of people. He was very friendly with everyone. I don't think he ever met an enemy. So, there's a lot of people out here, just paying their respects to him and his legacy," said Tyrone Johnson, a Charlotte, North Carolina resident who was waiting before the service. He said he went to high school with Scott and one of his brothers.

After the funeral, Scott family attorney Chris Stewart said the pain behind this shooting would have hurt any color family. "The epidemic of powerless people being taken advantage of no matter what color, no matter what gender, no matter what belief system you have, needs to stop," he said.

"We're not going to let this case boil down to just racial issues because it's bigger than that," Stewart said. "It's a human issue."

Police initially said Scott was shot on April 4 during a tussle over Slager's department-issued Taser. But the video taken by the bystander and released last Tuesday showed Slager firing eight times as Scott ran away.

Scott was driving a 1991 Mercedes that he bought from a neighbor and was headed to an auto parts store when he was stopped, his brother Rodney Scott said.

Police said he had a broken taillight. Video from the police car's dashboard camera shows Slager asking Scott for his license and registration, then heading back to his cruiser before Scott gets out of the car and runs.

Scott's relatives have said they suspect he fled Slager out of fear of being jailed again over missed child support payments.

At the time he was stopped, Scott, who worked as a warehouse forklift operator, owed more than $18,000 in child support and court fees, according to Charleston County records.

Clyburn said he hoped some good could come from the tragedy.

"I think this is a catalyst to get people to face up to the fact that we've got problems in this country," he said. "I think this exposed something that is already there."

Clyburn also said that it didn't make sense for Scott to face jail for failing to pay child support. That caused Scott to lose a $35,000-a-year job, making it impossible for him to pay.

"If you want to collect child support, there's got to be income - and you ain't going to make much income from jail," Clyburn said.

Clyburn also said there need to be minimum standards, perhaps national standards, for evaluating law officers.

"It seems to me evaluation needs to be much more than whether or not you can shoot a gun," he said.

Scott, who grew up in North Charleston, said the incident provides an opportunity for local law enforcement agencies to re-evaluate their operations. On the national level, he said, it's a chance to promote the use of body cameras by police agencies nationwide.

Those who knew Scott remembered him as lighthearted and gentle. They describe a laid-back, fun-loving man who took his girlfriend dancing on weekends. Scott had been married twice, and proposed to his girlfriend Charlotte Jones about a week before he was killed.

Co-workers said Scott always seemed calm at work and would often stop to ask others how they were doing. He loved to talk about pro football, especially his favorite Dallas Cowboys, even in the spring, when the rest of the sports world had moved on to college basketball and March Madness.

Stanley Weldon of Summerville said before the service that he attended church with the Scott family.

"It's a sad day in the community and the church family to lose someone who was a member of our church," he said.

He added: "This is stressful but we have to turn this into a blessing and learn from it and the community will come together."

___

Associated Press reporter Alex Sanz contributed to this report.


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