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Richmonders react to S.C. police officer shooting suspect in the back

Posted at 8:11 PM, Apr 08, 2015

RICHMOND, Va. -- While the graphic video of a man being gunned down makes its way through the internet, Latisha Mason is watching it for the first time.

Her reaction?

"Upset. Nervous. I mean I have sons -- that kind of stuff is just awful to me,” said Latisha Mason.

And Michele Fischer says she is disturbed by the video too.

"I feel like there had to be some other option than to shoot somebody eight times in the back,” said Michele Fischer.

A South Carolina officer is facing murder charges after a cell phone video surfaced of him firing eight times at a man running away from him.

The officer reportedly pulled the victim over Saturday for a broken tail light, claiming he feared for his life as the two struggled over his taser.

"223 dispatch shots fired. Subject is down. He grabbed my taser."

But that's not what the video shows.

"My first reaction when I first saw this was we have a problem because even though we don't know all of the evidence, this is only one portion of the evidence,” said Steve Neal, retired Chesterfield Police Captain. "It raises a lot of questions as to what happened here. And why in fact, was the officer shooting as he was in this set of circumstances."

Neal says in most cases, shooting someone in the back is not justified.

"However, there is Federal law that will allow it under certain circumstances and that is if an individual or the suspect presents a clear and continuing danger to the public,” said Neal.

What is clear is the officer's actions in the video. And CBS 6 legal Analyst Todd Stone says that could mean a murder conviction for the officer.

"There's no legal justification for that,” Stone explained. “So, I would be surprised if this would be downgraded to anything other than a murder. It looks like it is a deliberate, a pre-meditated what we call in Virginia murder.”

Stone says this would be a totally different situation if there were no video in this case. Then, the prosecutor would have to rely on circumstantial evidence like where the victim was shot and physical evidence at the scene. But he says that could result in a murder charge too.

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