Southern Carolina police officer Michael Slager is being charged with the murder of a black man named Walter Scott, thus adding to the heightened restlessness regarding shootings between white officers and unarmed black victims. Slager initially claimed that Scott had attacked him and stole his gun. Slager said that he had feared for his life, so he shot the man. However, a witness came forward. This person had caught the shooting on camera, thus proving that Slager’s claims were actually false.
The incident began around 9:30 AM on Saturday, April 4. Slager attempted to pull Scott over for a defective brake light. The video does not show the initial conflict between the two, but it does show Scott begin to jog away from the officer, upon which Slager shot Scott eight times in the back. Another officer then appears on the scene, and Slager yelled at him to put the corpse’s hands behind his back. Slager then takes his taser and throws it next to the body as a way to cover up his wrongdoings.
It was also revealed that two other complaints were filed against Slager in the past. In total, thankfully the officer’s actions were not ignored this time. The officer faces either the death penalty or thirty years in prison. Anthony Scott, the victim’s brother, told CBS News that “From the beginning when it happened, all we wanted was the truth . . . If there wasn’t a video, would we know the truth? Or would we have just gone with what was reported earlier?”
This case is one of many that supports the idea that police officers should wear body cameras. Justin Bamburg, lawyer and South Carolina State Representative, said in response to this case: “It is very arguable that with body cameras, we won’t have to depend on the courage of a random stranger with a camera to come forward.” In many ways, this would be quite helpful.
Nevertheless, cameras do not always help to create clarity. And even when they do, it is very likely that people will choose to ignore the proof. Some of the reasons behind this is that the Unites States’ legal system is not only excessively large, but also immensely racist. U.S. Police killed more people in March than UK Police killed in the last 100 years. Additionally, blacks, who only make up 12.6 percent of the U.S. population, account for 38.9 percent of all violent crimes throughout the nation. Moreover, blacks make up 37.9 percent of all U.S. prisoners. Both of these characteristics of the U.S. criminal justice system prove that circumstances are much less safe for non-white people.
Definitely not all cops are cruel, but it is clear that they still need to be treated like everyone else and not given special privileges, especially when it comes to shootings. “What happened in this case is not acceptable in South Carolina, nor is it reflective of our values or of the way most of our law enforcement officials act, and I assure all South Carolinians that the criminal judicial process will proceed fully,” said Gov. Nikki Haley. “This is a sad time for everyone in South Carolina, and I urge everyone to work together to help our community heal.”
By: Lydia Bashor, News Writer