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As Scott Family Reels From Police Shooting, Hundreds Turn Out For Funeral


Walter Scott was laid to rest today in Charleston, S.C. He's the 50-year-old black man who was shot in the back by a white policeman after he ran from a traffic stop. NPR's Martin Kaste talked with some of the mourners at the funeral earlier today.

MARTIN KASTE, BYLINE: This wasn't a huge funeral. The Scott family didn't want it big. They held it at their own church, which holds 500 tops, and that left hundreds more people outside hoping to squeeze in, some of them singing hymns as they waited.


KASTE: The outpouring of support and international interest still has the Scott family reeling, as well as some of his old friends.

TERRY GRANT: Wow. I'm sure he'd rather not be known for this incident. But it's no glamour or honor in it.

KASTE: Terry Grant was in the Cub Scouts with Walter Scott. They went to high school together. He says it was surreal watching the cell phone video of his friend's shooting.

GRANT: To see his life end this way, it's just very, very tragic and sad.

BARBARA SCOTT: I just can't believe that it's even happened. It's like watching someone else's life until I get here and we come to the services. Then we have to acknowledge what has really happened, you know?

KASTE: Barbara Scott is a second cousin of Walter's. She lives in the Bronx, and she says even before this happened in her family, she was worried about the police.

SCOTT: I've been telling my sons, I don't think you should be out anywhere where you don't have to be, you know, because I was thinking that, you know, you could be singled out.

KASTE: But what's interesting is how the Scott family sees this situation as a reason for hope. You get the impression that they believe Walter Scott's death has been handled better by the local authorities here who fired the officer involved and are charging him with murder.

SCOTT: I think this is the beginning, because I was glad that the mayor, Summey, you know, made a move on it quickly. You know, he responded as fast as he could, and I respect that.

KASTE: The angriest people at this funeral seemed to be those who didn't know Walter Scott personally, people like James Camper, who drove five hours from Atlanta just to be here because of what this death represents.

JAMES CAMPER: I wanted to actually attend the Michael Brown funeral, but I was living away in Los Angeles at that time.

KASTE: Camper says he's sick and tired of hearing stories about unarmed black men being shot by the police. To him, it's proof that electing a black president didn't do much to end racism in America.

CAMPER: I'm not really most upset about Mr. Walter being shot. I'm most upset that if this had not been videotaped, you know, this wouldn't even be story. You know, it'd be the typical story. A black guy got out of hand, you know, lost his temper and he was shot, you know, accordingly. He was dealt with accordingly.

KASTE: That might've been the story, but it certainly isn't now. Walter Scott has been buried, but activists here say they're just getting started. Tonight, various groups are holding vigils and protests, both at City Hall and in the now-infamous vacant lot where he was killed. Martin Kaste, NPR News, North Charleston. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Martin Kaste is a correspondent on NPR's National Desk. He covers law enforcement and privacy. He has been focused on police and use of force since before the 2014 protests in Ferguson, and that coverage led to the creation of NPR's Criminal Justice Collaborative.