After Walter Scott's death, three other police shootings draw attention

After South Carolina police shooting, developments in three other fatal cases draw attention

After the rare arrest of a South Carolina police officer in the death of Walter Scott in North Charleston this week, developments in other cases have also refocused the nation’s attention on fatal shootings by police.

SOUTH CAROLINA

On Tuesday, the same day then-Officer Michael Slager was arrested and video appearing to show him shooting Scott in the back went viral, officials announced the arrest of another officer in South Carolina.

North Augusta public safety Officer Justin Gregory Craven, 25, shot and killed an unarmed 68-year-old man parked in his own driveway more than a year ago, police have said. Craven was arrested and charged Tuesday with discharging a firearm into an occupied vehicle, a felony, according to the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division.

According to a complaint, Craven had tried to pull over Ernest Satterwhite on suspicion of driving under the influence. Satterwhite led Craven on a brief pursuit, then drove home and parked. Craven then fired several times through Satterwhite’s driver-side door, the complaint said. Craven is white, and Satterwhite was black.

“This was horrible,” said Carter Elliott, an attorney for the Satterwhite family, who received a $1-million wrongful death settlement from the city this month.

Elliott said that dash-cam footage of the incident does exist, but that he could not release the video to the media until after the case was complete. A spokesman with the state’s law enforcement division told The Times on Thursday it also would not release the footage.

“At some point all evidence will be released and people will see – on their own, like in Charleston – what happened to Mr. Satterwhite,” Elliott said. If convicted of the felony, Craven faces up to 10 years in prison and a fine of $1,000.

The charges filed this week against Craven come after a grand jury indicted him on a misdemeanor for misconduct surrounding Satterwhite’s death, according to the Associated Press. The misdemeanor case is still pending.

FLORIDA

On Wednesday, as the public discussed whether Slager would have been arrested if video of Scott’s shooting hadn't emerged, another family released a video to the public. This one shows a Florida police officer fatally shooting a mentally ill man who was holding a broom.

Lavall Hall, 25, was shot and killed in the early morning of Feb. 15 in Miami Gardens, Fla., after his mother called police to report his erratic behavior. Hall, who had been diagnosed with schizophrenia, was wearing a tank top and underwear.

Police say that Hall became aggressive with the broom, and that officers initially tried to subdue him with a Taser.

“Get on the … ground or you’re dead!” a voice yells in the video, right before an officer can be seen opening fire. In the last of five shots fired, the officer’s gun appears to be pointed downward.

Hall was black, and the officer, Eddo Trimino, is white, according to the AP.

The family’s attorneys say the timing of the video’s release was not planned; the family, who had been requesting the video for months, received a copy from city officials Friday.

Hall’s relatives have received no information about the investigation of his death, their attorneys say. They have not received a copy of the autopsy report, they say, and the family has called for an independent investigation of the shooting. Miami Gardens city and police officials could not be immediately reached for comment.

“The goal of getting attention is to try to get some results,” said Judd Rosen, an attorney for the family. “There’s a lot of attention on our case, and it comes at a time when there’s a lot of attention to the issue.”

“But we haven’t seen any results yet from the attention,” Rosen added. “Any progress in our case and in getting a proper investigation underway would mean that releasing the video under these circumstances was successful.”

ILLINOIS

On Monday, coroner’s officials in Lake County, Ill., released preliminary findings that a black teenager who was fatally shot by police there Saturday had been struck in the back.

According to the Zion Police Department, Justus Howell, 17, had met 18-year-old Tramond Peet to buy a gun, then tried to take the gun without paying for it. A struggle ensued between the two, and the gun went off, Peet told authorities.

At one point, Peet told police, Howell pointed the gun at him. Peet said he let go and fled after he heard squad cars pulling up. Sheriff’s deputies say Peet gave them his account after officers found him with a handgun magazine during a traffic stop later.

Police say they recovered a handgun at the scene of the shooting, but it’s unclear whether Howell was holding the weapon or threatening officers at the time he was shot. Police released no other details, citing the ongoing investigation.

The officer who shot Howell has been placed on paid administrative leave pending an investigation, the Zion Police Department said. Officials have not identified him, but they have said he is 32 years old and a nine-year veteran of the department.  

Jennifer Witherspoon, the president of the Lake County NAACP, told the AP that authorities have told her they have video documenting the scuffle between Peet and Howell. In an email, Witherspoon said the investigation is ongoing, but she did not comment further. Howell’s funeral is scheduled for Friday morning, she said.

Times staff writer Sarah Parvini contributed to this report.

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