The bystander who shot the video of a South Carolina cop shooting an unarmed black man now wants $US10,000 every time a media outlet plays the footage, his publicist has announced.
Australian talent management firm Markson Sparks reportedly sent cease-and-desist letters to media around the world on behalf of Feidin Santana, the man who recently claimed he feared for his life after witnessing North Charleston cop Michael Slager shoot Walter Scott as he tried to run away.
“People who might be put off by this are the media outlets that had it for free,” Markson Sparkson chief executive Max Markson told the New York Times, which first reported the payment demands. “Now they will have to pay.”
It is highly unusual for a police shooting witness to demand the news media pay for footage shot in the public domain. It is not clear if any news outlets will challenge his demands, stop playing the video or even possibly pay him.
The April 4 video, which has been viewed countless times by millions around the globe, prompted international outrage with its graphic depiction of the incident. Scott is seen running away from the officer, who has since been identified as Slager, while the cop fired multiple gunshots into his back.
Scott died a short time later but the initial account of the incident from Slager was that he shot Scott in self-defence after trying to subdue him with a stun gun.
The video’s release shocked the nation, led to Slager’s immediate firing and a murder charge for which he is currently sitting in jail while awaiting trial.
Lawyer Todd Rutherford reportedly wrote in the letter: “The search for justice is served by turning the video over to law enforcement” but that news outlets broadcasting it were in a “search for revenue.”
The fees would apply to future plays of the video and are negotiable, the firm said.
Santana recently told NBC News that he was living in fear of police retaliation.
“I felt that my life, with this information, might be in danger. I thought about erasing the video and just getting out of the community, you know Charleston, and living some place else,” he said. “I knew the cop didn’t do the right thing.”
Santana further explained: “I knew right away, I had something on my hands.”
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