The bystander who captured cellphone video of South Carolina police officer Michael Slager fatally shooting Walter Scott, an unarmed black man, in the back says he almost deleted the footage out of fear other police officers might retaliate against him.
“I thought about erasing the video,” Feidin Santana told MSNBC on Wednesday. “I felt that my life, with this information, might be in danger.”
Santana, a 23-year-old from the Dominican Republic, said he decided to release the video after reading the police report.
“I saw it on the news and I said, ‘No, this is not ... what happened,’” Santana said.
Scott, a 50-year-old father of four, was killed on Saturday following a traffic stop over a faulty brake light. Slager, who had used a Taser on Scott before opening fire, said he felt threatened and that Scott was trying to grab his stun gun.
Santana’s footage does not show the initial traffic stop.
“Before I started recording, they were down on the floor,” Santana told “NBC Nightly News” on Wednesday. “I remember the police [officer] had control of the situation. He had control of Scott. And Scott was trying just to get away from the Taser.”
But Scott “never used the Taser against the cop,” he said.
Santana’s video shows Slager fire as many as eight shots at Scott as he was running away. As Scott lies motionless, the 33-year-old officer orders him to put his hands behind his back, cuffs him, walks back to pick up an object and drops it near his body.
Santana said he quickly realized the magnitude of his footage.
“I knew right away, I had something on my hands,” Santana said.
On Tuesday, following the release of the video, Slager was charged with murder. If convicted, the five-year police veteran could face the death penalty.
Now, Santana says he fears for his life.
“I’m still scared,” Santana said on NBC’s “Today” show on Thursday. “Now people know where I live. People know where I work, so my normal routine from just walking to my house to work have changed. ... If I want to show my face, everybody over there knows, including the police officers in that department, who I am.”