Jurors hear from officer, man who recorded Walter Scott shooting in Friday testimony
CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCIV) - State prosecutors are moving chronologically through witnesses and evidence, showing jurors nearly every moment of Walter Scott's life in the days before April 4, and everything that happened after.
On Friday, jurors heard from former North Charleston police officer Clarence Habersham, the first officer to arrive at the scene after Michael Slager shot Scott.
Habersham's story started at City Hall where he was picking up an arrest warrant. He heard Slager radio in his traffic stop, and a few minutes later call out a Code 1080, the radio signal for a foot chase.
That's when Habersham ran for his car to give Slager backup. The two men had worked together for the past few months in the Charleston Farms area, a high crime zone in North Charleston.
During a cross-examination, Habersham said they routinely patroled less than a minute from each other so they would have backup in the Remount Road neighborhood -- but he was miles away at City Hall that Saturday.
Habersham also said police officers are not trained to give warning shots or shoot to incapacitate, but to aim for the center mass and shoot until the threat is eliminated.
Through Habersham's testimony, jurors were able to hear the radio calls made leading up to the shooting of Scott. They could hear the panic in Slager's voice and how out of breath he was as he said shots had been fired.
They were also able to hear how long the delay was between the call for help and when Habersham told Slager by radio he had arrived. A second after Habersham's transmission, Slager said he had shot Scott.
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But Solicitor Scarlett Wilson also used Habersham's testimony as an opportunity to show the Santana video again and ask him if he saw Slager drop or pick up items at the scene.
As Habersham said he did not see what Slager was doing, the video played showing Slager drop an object by Scott's body.
Habersham will return to the stand on Monday, where it's expected defense attorney Andy Savage will use the ex-cop to show the jury the light staffing and problems in backup in one of North Charleston's most crime-ridden areas.
But the most riveting testimony of the day came from Feiden Santana, the man who recorded the final moments between Scott and Slager on his cellphone.
Santana said he feared for his safety after recording the video.
"After he got away, that's been something I will never forget. And it's been something I didn't expect. He shoot the man running from him," Feidin Santana told jurors.
During testimony that lasted all morning and into the afternoon, Santana told jurors he was one of three people at the scene of the shooting; one was dead and the other was telling a version of the story he didn't see on his camera phone.
And that scared him, and that's why he signed on to do several national media interviews in the weeks after the shooting. Santana says he also told police officers at the scene he was a witness to the shooting.
"I witnessed what happened there as a way to let them know that what I saw was an abuse -- that I know something," he told the jury.
But the process to get the video to police was a long one, and it was seen by many people before investigators made contact with Santana.
According to Santana, he first showed the video to people at a Mexican grocery near the scene of the shooting. And then showed it to a close friend and client at the barber shop where he was working.
In conversations with that friend is the first time discussions of being paid for the video came up. It had been hours since the shooting.
He also spent time looking for an attorney who would give him protection.
Santana eventually signed on with Rep. Todd Rutherford, who worked as a liaison with various media companies to get Santana interviews with NBC in New York. He appeared on The Today Show, MSNBC, and other shows. During cross-examination, defense attorney Andy Savage pointed out Santana had also signed on with an Australian celebrity agent and was being paid $2,000 per week for appearances.
It's unclear from Santana's testimony if he is still being paid by the agent.
The most riveting part of Santana's testimony probably came when he was asked to step away from the witness box to the center of the courtroom floor and demonstrate what he saw happening between Scott and Slager.
As he got on all fours, the members of the jury stood and peered over each other to see what he was doing and how he was moving.
According to Santana, Scott stood up quickly and aggressively in an attempt to get away from Slager.
"When he stand up, he was very quick, the way both men stand up. Since I get to the alley, I saw just him, the black man, trying to get away and the officer and the officer trying to control the person," Santana said.
"It was just, a lot of movement, the black man trying to get away from the Taser. I mean he was trying to stand up."
Santana says he could hear the Taser being used, but after Scott broke away and was shot he did not see anyone holding.
Three times, Santana was asked to stand in front of the jury and demonstrate what he saw.
Savage on the cross-examination started to bring up photos of what he has said in the past would show Scott on top of Slager, but backed off of it after a challenge from the state on mentioning still shots of the Santana video without entering them into evidence.
Friday is the first time the jurors have seen the Santana video since the trial started, but it's probable they have seen it in previous news coverage of the case.
Jurors also heard from Santana's friend, William Weems, who advised Santana to seek out legal counsel and traveled with him to New York City for national news interviews.
He identified himself as a close friend of Santana's.
Weems, an assistant principal at Stall High School, talked about how scared Santana was after the shooting, but also said he never advised Santana to seek out a police agency and share the video.
On cross-examination, Savage asked Weems if he knew the name of Santana's wife or child in the Dominican Republic. He did not.
Testimony ended Thursday with the testimony of Walter Scott's mother, who was in tears throughout her testimony and then broke down as she walked back to the gallery.
Judy Scott, the 74-year-old mother of three, told jurors she was on the phone with her son Walter Scott when he was being chased and shocked with a Taser by Slager.
"He said, 'They are tasing me!' And I heard him groaning like he was in excruciating pain a couple times," Mrs. Scott said.
The call came as she was driving her grandson to a Walmart in West Ashley to get his glasses fixed. They had broken the night before. They never made it to the store, opting instead to go to her youngest son Rodney Scott's home to gather the family before going to Remount Road.
Mrs. Scott was the last person to speak to her eldest son before he was shot and killed.
Along with Mrs. Scott, juror heard from seven other witnesses, including the man who was in the car with Scott at the time of the traffic stop and the man who sold Scott the Mercedes he was driving at the time.
Other witnesses included Scott's live-in girlfriend, son, and an acquaintance he saw that morning at a church food drive.
Sgt. Scott Hill offered jurors details on the in-car video system that recorded the interaction between Scott and Slager. Jurors watched the first 8 minutes of the traffic stop, stopping about the time Pierre Fulton was taken out of Scott's car and frisked.
Slager is charged with murder in the shooting death of Scott. The charges came after the release of a cellphone video captured by an eyewitness.