Clarence Habersham Jr., the first North Charleston, S.C., officer to arrive on the scene after the fatal police shooting of an unarmed black man named Walter Scott, is drawing intense scrutiny both for the questions surrounding his response to the shooting and for what his role has shown about the pressures and expectations black officers face in largely white police departments, the New York Times reports. Critics of Habersham, 37, including black leaders and lawyers, have called for him to be prosecuted for failure to provide adequate aid to Scott, 50, and for appearing to go along with what many viewers of a video believe was an attempt by Michael Slager, the white officer who fatally shot. Scott in the back, to plant a Taser by his body.
Habersham said he tried to aid the victim by putting pressure on his wounds, but critics say the video does not show him performing CPR or acting with urgency. Habersham has spent much of his life in a racially mixed and often majority-white world. Friends, acquaintances and a former coach, many of them white, described him as a quiet, compassionate and humble man who is protective of those close to him. He grew up in Mount Pleasant, a well-to-do Charleston suburb of 75,000, two rivers and an island away from North Charleston, that is 91 percent white.