Update: Man Who Filmed South Carolina Shooting Shares Powerful Story

April 9th 2015

Sarah Gray

The man who witnessed and recorded the shooting of Walter Scott by police officer Michael Slager in North Charleston, S.C., is speaking out -- despite being "scared" of repercussions. On Wednesday, Feidin Santana spoke to NBC's Lester Holt and on MSNBC's "All In with Chris Hayes." On Thursday morning, Santana appeared on the "Today" show.

Santana, a 23-year-old immigrant from the Dominican Republic, was on his way to work on Saturday when he saw Scott running from Slager. After witnessing Slager use his Taser stun gun on Scott, Santana then began filming. The video, which was made public on Tuesday, captured Walter Scott as he fled and was shot at eight times by Officer Slager before falling to the ground.

Walter Scott shooting from The Post and Courier on Vimeo.

"I won't deny that I knew the magnitude of this, and I even thought about erasing the video," Santana said during an extended interview on "All In with Chris Hayes."

The video shot by Santana is at odds with Officer Slager's story that he used deadly force because he feared for his life and that Scott had tried to take his Taser. Upon seeing the video, the North Charleston police department handed the investigation over to the state. Slager was charged with murder on Tuesday and was fired from the police department on Wednesday.

"I have watched the video," North Charleston police chief Eddie Driggers said at a press conference on Wednesday. "And I was sickened by what I saw."

During the Chris Hayes interview, Santana said that he decided to come forward with the video after seeing that the police report did not match what he witnessed. Santana approached Scott's family with the video on Sunday at a vigil held for Walter Scott, according to a New York Times report. The video confirmed Walter Scott's eldest brother Anthony's suspicion that Walter would not have tried to take the officer's Taser. Santana and Anthony Scott made an agreement that if the police stuck to their story, Santana would turn the video over to the family.

"I thought about his position, their situation...If I were to have a family member that would happen [to], I would like to know the truth," Santana told NBC News.

Asked by Lester Holt about the fact that Slager has been charged with murder, Santana remained somber.

"It's not something that no one can feel happy about," he said. "He has his family, Mr. Scott also has his family. But I think, you know, [the officer] made a bad decision, and you pay for your decisions in this life."

Walter Scott's family and their attorney L. Chris Stewart have hailed Santana as a hero. "I knew this family would never get justice, and this guy just hands us justice," Stewart said, according to the New York Times. "He handed us justice."

Santana's decision to come forward was not without trepidation.

"I felt that my life, with this information, might be in danger," Santana said on "All In." "I thought about erasing the video and just getting out of the community, you know Charleston, and living some place else. I knew the cop didn't do the right thing."

Santana reiterated this sentiment on the "Today" show. "I say life changed in a matter of seconds," he explained to Matt Lauer. "I never thought this would happen, that I would be a witness. I'm still scared."

The video has led to calls for body cameras, and Chief Driggers stated that all officers on the force would soon be required to wear them. On Wednesday, Rep. James Clyburn (D - S.C.) also made a plea for civilians to record the police.

"I've advised young people, keep your cell phones tuned up," Rep. Clyburn told MSNBC's Andrea Mitchell. "Keep the battery charged. And don't hesitate to turn them on when you see things happening that's unbecoming or you think may cross the line."

According to a report from the Associated Press, Officer Slager had a "prior excessive force complaint." The man Mario Givens filed the complaint in 2013 after he was tased by Slager.