Michael Slager, the officer who was charged with murder after video surfaced of him shooting a fleeing Walter Scott eight times, is said to have a history of using excessive force on another unarmed man.
Mario Givens, his alleged victim, gave an exclusive interview to the Associated Press about his violent interaction with Officer Slager in 2013.
Givens said that he was awakened by loud banging on the front door of his North Charleston home and dressed in a T-shirt and boxers, he went to his door and cracked it open. Officer Slager was at his door.
“He said he wanted to come in, but didn’t say why,” said Givens, now 33. “He never said who he was looking for.” Without warning, Slager pushed open his door.
“‘Come outside or I’ll tase you,’” he recalled the officer saying as he burst into Givens’ home. “I didn’t want that to happen to me, so I raised my arms over my head, and when I did, he tased me in my stomach anyway.” The pain made Givens drop to the floor and he screamed for his mother, who was in the house. Another officer showed up and threw Givens to the ground, handcuffed him and threw him in the squad car.
“It was very devastating,” said Bessie Givens, 57, who was awakened by her son’s piercing screams. “You watch your son like that, he’s so vulnerable. You don’t know what’s going to happen. I was so scared.”
Reportedly, police officers had gone to the family’s home at the request of his brother’s ex-girlfriend (Maleah Kiara Brown), who earlier reported awakening in her nearby house to find Matthew Givens in her bedroom, uninvited. She said he left when she began screaming, and she dialed 911. Brown claims she gave a proper description of Mario’s brother, Matthew Givens, who stands about 5’5″. Mario Givens is well over 6 feet.
“He looked nothing like the description I gave the officers,” Brown said, referring to Mario Givens. “He asked the officer why he was at the house. He did it nicely. The police officer said he wanted him to step outside. Then he asked, ‘Why, why do you want me to step outside?’ Then the officer barged inside and grabbed him.” Brown warned the officers that they had the wrong man when the dragged Mario Givens out of the house, but they tuned her out.
“He was cocky,” she said of Slager. “It looked like he wanted to hurt him. There was no need to tase him. No reason. He was no threat.”
Givens filled out a formal complaint the following day and the police’s incident report detailed something very different: that the officers couldn’t see one of Givens’ hands and they feared he had a weapon. They claimed Givens wouldn’t comply, so Slager forced himself in to keep him from fleeing. And how did they combat grabbing the wrong brother? The police said the two Givens brothers looked “just alike.” Classic. According to Brown, police never contacted her to confirm her story as an eye witness and as the person who initially called 911.
The department reportedly opened up an investigation for Givens’ case, but after a few weeks, the case was closed and Slager was exonerated and placed back on the force. Reports show that Givens said he was never contacted as part of the internal investigation into Slager and only learned the case had been closed after he went to the station about six weeks later and asked what happened.
After learning about Walter Scott, Givens is saddened. “It could have been prevented. If they had just listened to me and investigated what happened that night, this man might be alive today.”
North Charleston’s police spokesman Spencer Pryor says the department is planning to review the case to see if the decision to exonerate Slager was the right one.