The former North Charleston, S.C., police officer who shot and killed Walter Scott in April said that he felt threatened by the 50-year-old father, who was seen in video footage attempting to flee, NBC News reports.
"Just that three seconds of the video came out. And everybody thought I was racist, and I just got out of my car and just shot him in the back for no reason," Slager told NBC News in a Skype interview from jail.
"That's what makes me upset, is that nobody knows what actually happened," the former cop added. "But now it's gonna come out."
Slager claims that he felt threatened and did not know that Scott was unarmed. According to NBC, Slager believed that Scott might have pulled a gun and shot at him first. Slager fired at Scott eight times as he fled.
Slager's lawyer, Andy Savage, said that state evidence shows that Slager did not murder Scott, with findings claiming that Scott's DNA was found on the officer's Taser. Gunshot residue was also allegedly found on Scott's hands, supposedly indicating a struggle for both weapons.
Savage told NBC News that Scott snatched Slager's Taser and fired it twice but missed because he did not know how to use the weapon. Slager then felt threatened and, having no way of knowing whether Scott was unarmed because he had no chance to pat him down, he fired.
"He sees irrational behavior of a suspect at that time," Savage claims. "He sees a guy who's committed four felonies in the last minute and a half—violently resisting arrest, assaulting a police officer, robbing the police officer of his weapon Taser and using that Taser in attempt to harm him. Four felonies in the last 30 to 45 seconds.
"Four months later, you can sit down with your cold beer and your TV show and watch the video and say, 'Ah, he wasn't armed,' " the lawyer added. "Well, good for you. Would you have known that at the time that the officer had to make a life-and-death decision? The guy has violently attacked him, violently tried to use the Taser against him."
Savage told NBC that his client is remorseful about Scott's death, saying that he's "just a regular guy."
"He's certainly very concerned about the loss of life," Savage said. "I don't want to say he's desperate about that. But he realizes that his actions resulted in the death of somebody. That's a heavy thing for anybody.
"If an average guy, whether he's driving a car and runs over a pedestrian or—whatever it is and there's a loss of life—it comes back and haunts you," Savage added. "And he's haunted by that."
Read more at NBC News.