The now-infamous video of a police officer in South Carolina shooting Walter Scott in the back was captured on a smartphone by a bystander. Until Wednesday night, the identity of that bystander was a mystery—as were the circumstances under which he ended up being in the exact right place at the right time to record what happened and thereby explode the officer’s fictitious account of the incident.
In one interview with NBC Nightly News anchor Lester Holt that aired on Wednesday night, the creator of the video is revealed to be Feidin Santana, an immigrant from the Dominican Republic. A longer interview with NBC’s Craig Melvin also aired Wednesday; you can and should watch the video here.
In the extended interview, Santana tells Melvin that he passes the area where the shooting took place on his way to work at a local barbershop every day. On the morning of Saturday, April 4th, he says, he was just walking by when he saw Scott being pursued by the officer, and he decided to follow the action. But the scene quickly turned more serious than Santana had anticipated.
Afterward, he was so rattled by what he’d witnessed that he considered deleting the video off his phone. “I felt that my life … with this information, might be … in danger,” Santana says. “I thought about erasing the video and just getting out of the community of North Charleston and living someplace else.”
After Santana saw the news reports about the shooting, he decided he couldn’t just sit on what he had. “I saw the police report, I read it. It wasn’t like that, the way they were saying … I saw it on the news—I said, ‘No, this is not right—this is not what happened.’ ”
At one point in the video, Santana says something about going to the police with the video, but then deciding it was a bad idea. After the interview, Craig Melvin tells Chris Hayes that Santana actually went to a police station to drop the video off before changing course and hiring a lawyer, though that’s not clearly reflected in the interview as aired.
The timeline of events isn’t totally clear, but it sounds like Santana ultimately decided to hand the video over to Walter Scott’s family.
“I put myself in the position of the family … I wanted them to have this and do something about it,” Santana says. “Because I knew if I didn’t give it to them, nothing would happen.”