Second video of South Carolina shooting incident released

Clip shows interaction between Walter Scott and police officer Michael Slager before shots fired

South Carolina officials investigating the weekend shooting death of a black man by a police officer have released a video that shows the early moments of an encounter that would ultimately reignite anger about US police misconduct.

The video, recorded on a camera mounted inside Officer Michael T. Slager's patrol car, was released by the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division, which has been conducting the inquiry into the death of Walter L. Scott that led to Slager's being charged with murder and subsequently fired.

The patrol car’s recording does not show Slager firing his Glock handgun at Mr Scott as he fled after being stopped for driving with a broken taillight. But it revealed an encounter that, in its initial minutes, appeared professional and routine. A video shot by a bystander moments later captures the fatal shooting of Mr Scott.

Only later in the recording, after Mr Scott ran from his Mercedes-Benz toward the grassy area where he was fatally wounded, were there indications of a struggle, and any physical skirmish occurred beyond the camera's range. Mr Scott had a long court record, often for failure to pay child support or to show up for court hearings, and his survivors have speculated that he might have fled because of a pending warrant.

The video begins with a traffic stop in a parking lot at an auto parts store. Slager asks Mr Scott for his identification and insurance paperwork. But Mr Scott says that he has not yet purchased the vehicle - telling Slager that he intends to do so soon - and that he does not have any documentation of insurance coverage.

Slager, telling Mr Scott “I’ll be right back with you,” returns to his patrol car. Mr Scott soon emerges from his vehicle but returns to the driver’s seat at Slager’s direction. About 20 seconds later, though, Mr Scott jumps from the car and flees on foot. Slager follows, saying at one point, “Taser! Taser! Taser!” Later, although the audio recording includes significant static, Slager appears to order Mr Scott to the ground. The video showed an apparent inconsistency in the account offered by Mr Scott’s supporters and family members, who said he had already bought the Mercedes-Benz. By Mr Scott’s account to Slager, he had not.

Slager’s lawyer, Andrew J. Savage III, did not immediately respond to a message seeking comment. John O’Leary, a Columbia, South Carolina, lawyer who this year defended a police chief accused of murdering an unarmed black man, said that although he expected the video would offer little for Slager’s defence, it did not appear to strengthen the case against him.

"It can't hurt him because he's got nothing positive to this point," said Mr O'Leary, a former director of the South Carolina Criminal Justice Academy. "If a guy runs, officers will chase him. But you can't just shoot a guy." Instead, Mr O'Leary said, the video simply "gives a little more reason about why he chased him to begin with."

New York Times