But in his life, 50-year-old Walter Scott was also the father of four children and served in the Coast Guard before being honorably discharged.
"He was outgoing -- loved everybody, (was) very known in the community and got along with everybody," his brother Anthony Scott told CNN's Don Lemon. "All the family loves him, and his kids loved him."
Until it all came crashing down Saturday morning, when North Charleston police Officer Michael Slager pulled Scott over, reportedly for a faulty brake light. Dash cam video released Thursday shows the two talking, then shows Scott get out of his car and run.
Why did he run? Justin Bamberg, a lawyer for Scott's family, speculated Thursday it could have been related to "child support and a fear of maybe going back to (jail)."
At the time of his death, Scott owed over $18,000 in back payments for two children and hadn't made a payment since July 2012, according to Charleston County family court documents. Another family lawyer, Chris Stewart, acknowledged that Scott had been arrested previously for outstanding warrants for not paying child support, but Stewart said that had been Scott's lone issue with the law for the past 20 years.
"I know that it had nothing to do with anything violent," Bamberg said of Scott's legal history. "He was not a dangerous person."
Shot in the back
According to a police report, Scott did not comply with an officer's demands and tried to grab Slager's stun gun.
Slager fired eight shots, five of which struck Scott. He was pronounced dead at the scene.
Regardless of why Walter Scott ran, "running from an officer doesn't result in the death penalty," Stewart said.
Slager has been charged with murder
, a charge that might not have come about if not for a bystander's video of the shooting.
Brother: 'It's so tragic'
Anthony Scott said he watched the video that showed his brother getting shot dead, footage that has traumatized the family.
"When I saw that video for the first time, my family was deeply hurt that someone would gun down a human being in that way," the brother said. "We just couldn't believe it."
The last time the family got together with Walter Scott was when the siblings threw a surprise wedding anniversary party for their parents.
"It was a great celebration," Anthony Scott said. "My dad and brothers planned it, and (my mother) was totally surprised.
"Now this happens," Scott said, referring to his brother's shooting. "It's so tragic."