Press Release

IACHR Condemns the Killing of an African-American Man in the United States

April 17, 2015

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Washington, D.C. - The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) condemns the killing of Walter Lamar Scott, an African-American man, at the hands of a police officer in the state of South Carolina, in the United States. The IACHR urges the State to continue to investigate what occurred to ensure that justice is done. 

According to the information available, Walter Lamar Scott, a 50-year-old African-American and father of four, died from gunshots fired by a police officer who had pulled over his vehicle because of a broken taillight. The police officer stated that he had fired after a struggle in which Walter Lamar Scott tried to take away his weapon. Meanwhile, an anonymous video turned up in which the policeman can be seen firing several shots at Walter Lamar Scott’s back as Scott tried to flee.

The Inter-American Commission takes note of the quick response from the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division, a state criminal investigation agency, which has opened an inquiry into the events. The Commission welcomes as a positive step the involvement of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and the Department of Justice in the investigation into this death. The Inter-American Commission urges the State to continue this investigation in a way that is exhaustive, impartial, independent, effective, and prompt, and to judicially punish those found to be responsible.

The IACHR expresses its concern over the deaths of African-Americans at the hands of State law enforcement in different states of the United States of America. The Inter-American Commission has been monitoring, via thematic hearings and press releases, a number of cases that may have involved excessive use of force by police officers against people of African descent and other people of color. In this regard, the Commission urges the State to investigate any possible connections between this and other cases and to adopt coordinated legislative, policy, and institutional measures designed to eliminate racial discrimination, including measures to protect and guarantee the right to nondiscrimination.

The IACHR is an autonomous organ of the OAS, and derives its mandate from the OAS Charter and the American Convention on Human Rights. The Inter-American Commission has a mandate to promote the observance of human rights in the region and acts as a consultative body to the OAS in this matter. The Commission is composed of seven independent members who are elected by the General Assembly of the OAS in a personal capacity and do not represent their countries of origin or residence.

No. 040/15