What If There Was No Video? In a video that appears almost too disturbing to be real, a South Carolina Police Officer shoots a fleeing and apparently unarmed Black man in the back eight times. The victim later died.
The North Charleston Police Officer, Michael Slager, 33, was recorded on video shooting Walter Scott, 50, after reportedly stopping Scott for a minor traffic violation. How the situation escalated is unclear but the start of a video shows there was some sort of altercation before Scott began running away from Slager.
As is almost always the case in police involved shootings, Slager reportedly informed superiors he “feared for his life” and that Scott attempted to take his taser from him. The start of the video of the alleged incident released by the New York Times appears to show that the two had some sort of altercation but then clearly the man identified as Walter Scott is seen running away from Slager when he is shot.
The incident reportedly occurred on Saturday, April 4. The video was released publicly today, the same day that local elections are taking place in Ferguson, Mo, amidst the issues around the shooting death of teen Michael Brown. On most police forces, cops are trained that they may only use deadly force for two reasons: 1. To protect someone else’s life, or 2. the officer feared for their life.
The incident is yet another example of how new technology is opening a window on incidents that were only talked about in private. No one believed many of the victims or their families who made allegations against the police regarding brutality.
Even with video recordings, as in the killings of Eric Garner, Tamir Rice, John Crawford or Kajieme Powell by police, some still continue to argue that police are right no matter what and video reveals.
Unlike any other recent police shooting, authorities in North Charleston have charged Slager with murder and would appear to be indicating that Slager’s actions are wrong.
“When you’re wrong, you’re wrong,” said North Charleston Mayor Keith Summey at a news conference.
“If you make a bad decision, don’t care if you’re behind the shield or just a citizen on the street, you have to live by that decision,” he added.