Tension endures a year after black man shot by South Carolina officer 

Miles Scott, son of the late Walter Scott, lays a rose as relatives and friends gathered to remember Scott, at Live Oak Memorial Gardens in Charleston, South Carolina, April 4, 2016. REUTERS/RANDAL HILL

The South Carolina city where a white police officer shot dead an unarmed black man one year ago still simmers with racial tension as black residents say they continue to be harassed and humiliated by law enforcement.

Patrolman Michael Slager killed motorist Walter Scott on April 4, 2015, firing eight times at his back as he fled a traffic stop for a broken tail light. A bystander captured the shooting on cell phone video. Scott, 50, was a father of four.

Judy Scott, mother of the late Walter Scott, wipes a tear as relatives and friends gathered to remember Scott, at Live Oak Memorial Gardens in Charleston, South Carolina, April 4, 2016. REUTERS/Randal Hill

Judy Scott, mother of the late Walter Scott, wipes a tear as relatives and friends gathered to remember Scott, at Live Oak Memorial Gardens in Charleston, South Carolina, April 4, 2016. REUTERS/Randal Hill

Slager’s arrest on a murder charge may have helped spare North Charleston the rioting that took place in other U.S. cities after police killings of black men. He is awaiting trial, his lawyers saying he acted in self-defense.

Relatives and friends gathered to remember Walter Scott, at Live Oak Memorial Gardens in Charleston, South Carolina, April 4, 2016. REUTERS/Randal Hill

Relatives and friends gathered to remember Walter Scott, at Live Oak Memorial Gardens in Charleston, South Carolina, April 4, 2016. REUTERS/Randal Hill

African Americans say their demands for more transparency in police practices, such as the creation of a citizen review board, have gone unheeded. Some complain of being subjected to overly aggressive policing and racial profiling.

Roses are placed near the gravesite as relatives and friends gathered to remember Walter Scott, at Live Oak Memorial Gardens in Charleston, South Carolina, April 4, 2016. REUTERS/Randal Hill

Roses are placed near the gravesite as relatives and friends gathered to remember Walter Scott, at Live Oak Memorial Gardens in Charleston, South Carolina, April 4, 2016. REUTERS/Randal Hill

“People are still being picked out and picked on,” Walter Scott’s brother, Anthony Scott, said on Monday after family and friends prayed and placed white roses on the slain man’s grave.

“I don’t want to see another mother, another family, have to go through what we’ve gone through,” added Judy Scott, the men’s mother. “There needs to be a change.”

Relatives and friends gathered to remember Walter Scott, at Live Oak Memorial Gardens in Charleston, South Carolina, April 4, 2016. REUTERS/Randal Hill

Relatives and friends gathered to remember Walter Scott, at Live Oak Memorial Gardens in Charleston, South Carolina, April 4, 2016. REUTERS/Randal Hill

Civil rights organizations are urging the U.S. Justice Department to investigate the police department. The NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund Inc (LDF) has collected testimonials they hope will bolster the request for a federal probe, said Monique Dixon, LDF’s deputy director of policy and senior counsel.

Rodney Scott (C), brother of the late Walter Scott, watches as balloons are released as relatives and friends gathered to remember Scott, at Live Oak Memorial Gardens in Charleston, South Carolina, April 4, 2016. REUTERS/Randal Hill

Rodney Scott (C), brother of the late Walter Scott, watches as balloons are released as relatives and friends gathered to remember Scott, at Live Oak Memorial Gardens in Charleston, South Carolina, April 4, 2016. REUTERS/Randal Hill

“We want to make sure it doesn’t happen again,” said Edward Bryant III, president of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People’s North Charleston chapter. No one should “act as judge, jury and prosecutor on the streets in a police car.”

Gary Butts, family friend of the late Walter Scott, lays a rose at the gravesite as relatives and friends gathered to remember Scott, at Live Oak Memorial Gardens in Charleston, South Carolina, April 4, 2016. REUTERS/Randal Hill

Gary Butts, family friend of the late Walter Scott, lays a rose at the gravesite as relatives and friends gathered to remember Scott, at Live Oak Memorial Gardens in Charleston, South Carolina, April 4, 2016. REUTERS/Randal Hill

Mayor Keith Summey, who declined an interview request, said in a statement that steps had been taken to rebuild trust in the city where 47 percent of the 106,000 residents are black and about 78 percent of the city’s police force is white, as are Summey and Police Chief Eddie Driggers.

Protesters carry signs at a rally in North Charleston, South Carolina in this April 8, 2015 file photo. REUTERS/Randall Hill/Files

Protesters carry signs at a rally in North Charleston, South Carolina in this April 8, 2015 file photo. REUTERS/Randall Hill/Files

The entire police force is now equipped with body cameras and the department launched two new community outreach programs, including “front porch visits” aimed at forging relationships between people and law enforcement.

Driggers “has built a more responsive, yet gentler department than what we had at the beginning of 2015,” Summey said. Driggers did not respond to an interview request.

RACIAL PROFILING

The Charleston Area Justice Ministry, an interfaith group that works for social change, will ask the police department to allow an external audit of its records for evidence of racial bias after the group said it collected anecdotes of unwarranted searches and questioning.

A still image taken from police dash cam video allegedly shows Walter Scott running from his vehicle during a traffic stop before he was shot and killed by white police officer Michael Slager in North Charleston, South Carolina, in this file photo received April 7, 2015. REUTERS/South Carolina Law Enforcement Division/Handout via Reuters/Files

A still image taken from police dash cam video allegedly shows Walter Scott running from his vehicle during a traffic stop before he was shot and killed by white police officer Michael Slager in North Charleston, South Carolina, in this file photo received April 7, 2015. REUTERS/South Carolina Law Enforcement Division/Handout via Reuters/Files

The group plans to present its findings to the city this month, member Bill Thomas said.

State records show black drivers continue to be stopped by North Charleston police at a higher rate than white drivers.

In both the nine months before Scott’s death and the nine months after, black drivers were stopped at almost twice the rate of white drivers. Total traffic stops dropped by more than half in the nine months following the shooting, according to the state Department of Public Safety.

Former police officer Michael Slager walks to the defense table bond hearing, in Charleston, South Carolina, in this September 10, 2015 file photo. REUTERS/Randall Hill/Files

Former police officer Michael Slager walks to the defense table bond hearing, in Charleston, South Carolina, in this September 10, 2015 file photo. REUTERS/Randall Hill/Files

“I think they’re laying low,” James Johnson, president of the South Carolina chapter of the National Action Network and a North Charleston resident, said of police. “They’ve been under scrutiny.”

The parents of Michael Slager look on during an emotional plea from Judy Scott (L), mother of Walter Scott, to deny bond for former police officer Slager, in Charleston, South Carolina, in this September 10, 2015, file photo. REUTERS/Randall Hill/Files

The parents of Michael Slager look on during an emotional plea from Judy Scott (L), mother of Walter Scott, to deny bond for former police officer Slager, in Charleston, South Carolina, in this September 10, 2015, file photo. REUTERS/Randall Hill/Files

Slager, 34, was released on bail in January and is scheduled to be tried in October. He has said he feared for his life after being attacked by Scott following the stop.

He was dismissed from the force, and the city reached a $6.5 million wrongful death settlement with Scott’s family last fall.

(Reporting by Harriet McLeod, writing by Colleen Jenkins; editing by Daniel Trotta and Sandra Maler)

Source: Reuters

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