Washington: Amidst nationwide outrage over a white cop in South Carolina shooting dead an unarmed black man running away, the man who took the video of the horrific incident says he is now afraid.
Feidin Santana, who took the video of North Charleston police officer Michael Slager shooting Walter Scott Saturday, told the State newspaper Thursday he wasn't fearful at first but later became afraid just after the horrific sight unfolded before him.
When he first started taking the video, "I didn't feel anything. There was a lot of emotions combined but I didn't feel anything," he was quoted as saying
"But afterward, when I knew what was happening, and I knew the possession that I had in my hand - the information - definitely, I was scared. I knew it was something important in my hands, and like I said, I was scared for my life," Santana said.
Santana also told CNN Thursday night he was told by another cop to stop using his phone to capture the incident.
"One of the officers told me to stop, but it was because I say to them that what they did was an abuse and I witnessed everything," he said.
In other interviews, Santana has said he feared for his own life, and that almost kept him from revealing the recording.
Santana's video -which has now been viewed by millions - has brought dramatic attention to police shootings of blacks across the nation, the State noted as various activist groups planned rallies and demonstrations to protest the shooting.
The video contradicted official police versions of the shooting and showed in vivid detail that Scott was unarmed and running away from Slager when the officer lifted his gun and fired eight times at the fleeing man.
After the shooting, Santana - a 23-year-old barber originally from the Dominican Republic - continued walking to work. "I just kept my phone with me," he was quoted as saying
Later, after hearing the police version of events that Slager had fired in self-defence, Santana decided to give the video to Scott's family and let them do with it what they thought best.
The State said the people in North Charleston aren't surprised over the latest shooting incident, calling it inevitable in a police department they believe focuses on petty crimes and fails to keep its officers in check.
As a steady crowd left flowers, stuffed animals, notes and protest signs Thursday in the empty lot where Scott was gunned down, the newspaper cited many as saying police routinely dismiss complaints of petty brutality and harassment, even when eyewitnesses can attest to police misbehaviour.
The result, they say, is that officers are regarded with a mixture of distrust and fear.
The Slate citing the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division, or SLED, reported that Scott's death marks the 11th officer-involved shooting in South Carolina since the beginning of this year.
Police in South Carolina have fired their weapons at 209 suspects in the past five years, and a handful of officers have been accused of pulling the trigger illegally - but none has being convicted, according to an analysis by The State newspaper.
Nationwide, on average, the story of a white officer shooting a black man emerges about twice a week, the New Yorker said citing a USA Today report that about 96 African-Americans were fatally shot by police every year from 2006 to 2012.