A campaign to raise funds for North Charleston, South Carolina police officer Michael T. Slager, who was charged with murder in the shooting death of an unarmed black man during a routine stop, has been blocked by crowdfunding site GoFundMe.
The release of a cellphone video on Tuesday shed new light on the death of Walter Scott, a 50-year-old father of four who was gunned down on Saturday. Slager was fired from the North Charleston Police Department on Wednesday, and the chief of the department said he was sickened after viewing the video of the shooting.
As protesters gathered outside the North Charleston City Hall calling for justice for Scott, others attempted to organize support for Slager in the form of an online crowdfunding initiative — even as the local police association decided not to provide funding for his legal defense.
"Officer Slager's case does not meet the SCLEOA criteria needed to provide him with legal representation through the association," Ryan Alphin, the executive director of South Carolina Law Enforcement Officers' Association, told Mashable.
In the video, Slager, 33, is clearly seen shooting Scott in the back eight times while he runs in the opposite direction. According to police reports, Scott was stopped beacuse of a broken brake light.
"I have watched the video and I was sickened by what I saw. I have not watched it since," Police Chief Eddie Driggers said Wednesday during a press briefing on Wednesday.
“It is a sad day for us all when a police officer makes what appears to be a very bad decision that resulted in an unnecessary death," Alphin said. "The swift decision to charge the officer demonstrates that law enforcement will not tolerate the tarnishing of the badge and oaths we all take so seriously," read a statement from the group.
A Twitter account associated with the attempted fundraiser, dedicated to raising money to offset Slager's forthcoming legal costs, noted that GoFundMe rejected the campaign and directed people to a similar fundraiser on Indiegogo. It is unclear who is behind the campaign or whether funds were ever raised.
At the time of writing, 18 hours after the Indiegogo page was set up, it had raised just $91 from five supporters.
The page carried the following message:
We're campaigning to show our Support for Officer Michael T. Slager! We believe in all of our LEOs and want to publicly support them! Although he may have made mis-steps in judgement he was protecting the community. Michael is a former Coast Guardsman with two stepchildren and a wife who is expecting a child, served for more than five years with the department without being disciplined. Please help in any way you can. He has served five years with the department without being disciplined.
The person or people behind the campaign did not respond to requests for comment.
GoFundMe confirmed to Mashable that the page had been removed, due to a violation of the site's terms and conditions after review by the team.
A spokesperson was unable to comment on which of the site's terms and conditions were violated or how much money had been raised on the page prior to it being shut down. Yet Slager has been formally charged with murder, a crime that may fall under the site's ban on "campaigns in defense of formal charges of heinous crimes, including violent, hateful, or sexual acts," which is explicitly stated on its user page.
Some Twitter users called for Indiegogo to follow suit and shut down the campaign on its site.