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Video of SC police shooting prompts comparison to Eric Garner case

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NORTH CHARLESTON, S.C. (PIX11) -- Now that cellphone video has helped to lead to the arrest of a South Carolina police officer who repeatedly shot at an unarmed black man who died on the scene, it's got some people in New York asking why cellphone video evidence didn't lead to an arrest in the highest profile police custody death in our region, that of Eric Garner, last summer.

The North Charleston, South Carolina case features what is easily the most disturbing video to make news for some time.  Walter Scott, 50, was unarmed and fleeing Officer Michael Slager after Slager had pulled Scott over for a broken light.

Officer Slager had claimed that his life was in danger when he'd opened fire.  However, the video, shot on a cellphone by a bystander, led to the officer's arrest on a murder charge, and to his being fired on Wednesday from the North Charleston Police Department.

"The video evidence puts the lie" to Slager's statements that Scott was a physical threat to him, said Ron Kuby, defense attorney. He's won many high profile cases, but in the case of Officer Slager, Kuby called the evidence -- the eyewitness cellphone video -- overwhelming against the officer.

Mayor Bill de Blasio on Wednesday also commented on the video and how it had affected the police involved shooting case.

The mayor was actually among many public figures speaking about the South Carolina case at an official function hosted by someone close to New York's most memorable case of an unarmed man of color dying in police custody while cellphone video was recording, the case of Eric Garner.  Al Sharpton's National Action Network convention is where Mayor de Blasio and others commented on what had happened in South Carolina.

Sharpton has closely advised the family of Eric Garner,  whose death in police custody in Staten Island last summer was also recorded on cellphone video by bystanders.

However, the outcome of that case did not result in the arrest of any of the police officers involved.

"The problem with that was interpretation," said Kuby in an interview.  He said that the Eric Garner videos, the main one of which showed several officers subduing Garner in various ways, allowed "a white district attorney to convince an almost all-white grand jury not to convict."

In a major new development regarding the most widely viewed Eric Garner arrest video, the man who recorded it, Ramsey Orta, has been able to raise considerably more than his bail bond amount of $16,250 in a case unrelated to the Garner video he recorded.

Orta is currently awaiting trial in jail at Rikers Island.  He's actually been on hunger strike there for days, causing his family to worry.

They set up a gofundme site to raise funds to secure Orta's release.  It has soared way past its original goal, and has been collecting hundreds of dollars every hour.