Eyewitness says police account of shooting isn’t really what happened

Santana demonstrates what he saw

CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCBD) — On day two of Michael Slager’s trial, Solicitor Scarlett Wilson called Feidin Santana to the stand first. Santana is the 25-year-old bystander who captured part of the interaction between Walter Scott and Michael Slager. His testimony lasted from 9:45 a.m. until 1:35 p.m.

Santana told the court he was late for work on the morning he captured the video.  He says initially he froze when he saw Scott running away from Slager.  He then described hearing an electric sound and a man making an uncomfortable sound.

Santana said from his perspective it appeared Scott was trying to get away from then-Officer Slager and the taser.

Santana says he didn’t expect what happened next; He says it was something he will never forget.  Slager shot Scott. He later called the incident an injustice, though at the time he didn’t know Scott was actually dead.   In his home country, the Dominican Republic, officers often use rubber bullets. Plus he testified another officer who arrived told Santan Scott was fine.

It was later through media report Santana learned the story of what happened in the media.  He said the narrative being told wasn’t what actually occurred, and he began searching social media for the Scott family.  He met with the family to share the video.  He also shared the video with a friend and his partner in the Dominican Republic. He hired a lawyer, Todd Rutherford, and started a media blitz appearing on the Today Show, Morning Joe, and others.  He made these appearances, he told the courtroom, because he wanted the world to know who he was in case something happened to him.

Rutherford booked the media appearances and secured a “celebrity” agent, according to testimony Friday.

The defense opened cross examination with a copy of a song Santana wrote six months before he witnessed the shooting.  The lyrics contained an anti-government, anti-police tone.  The defense says the lyrics indicate Santana’s perspective on law enforcement.

Though an exact figure wasn’t given, the defense pointed out Santana received thousands of dollars in perks and cash for the video.  It’s a point Santana defending by saying he had to take care of his family and the Scott family supported him.

One point that defense attorney Andy Savage hammered was if Santana saw the entire interaction between Slager and Scott and how many seconds they were out of his sight.

Savage also asked Santana if he heard Slager “curse” at Walter Scott or yell at him.  Santana said Slager never did that.

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