It seems hard to believe that this much time has gone by, but it was eighteen months ago when I published an article titled, a bad cop in South Carolina. It was the story of officer Michael Slager and the shooting of motorist Walter Scott. You can read through that older piece for the full details and video, but the short version of it remains disturbing to this day. Slager pulled over Scott for a license plate issue which led to a confrontation, with Scott attempting to flee. There was a scuffle between the two during which Slager claims Scott attempted to take his taser from him. After that, Scott turned and attempted to flee again, slowly jogging away. (He wasn’t in the best of shape to put it mildly.) That’s when Slager shot him in the back and the episode was captured on video by a bystander.
Slager was fired from the Police Department and after all of this time, jury selection is finally beginning in the case. (AT&T News)
A jury being chosen this week in Charleston will have to decide whether a white former police officer is guilty of murder in the shooting of an unarmed black motorist that shocked the nation after a bystander released cellphone video of the confrontation.
Michael Slager’s attorney contends there was more to the incident than what appeared on the widely seen video clip showing Walter Scott’s shooting, including a fight between the pair and a tussle over the officer’s Taser.
In a rather surprising twist, not only is Slager pleading innocent of the charges but his attorneys are seeking to get the case thrown out entirely. His explanation is that the whole trial is politically motivated and that Slager is being thrown under the bus in the name of political correctness. (NY Daily News)
Lawyers for the former South Carolina police officer charged with murdering an unarmed black man are trying to end his murder trial before it starts.
Michael Slager’s defense team spent last week attempting to dismiss the case right before its jury selection, writing off his prosecution as a “politically motivated” attack on police…
His attorneys argued that Slager is the victim of an unfair “double teaming” from state and federal prosecutors.
This is going to be a seriously tough argument to make. It’s true that race relations between police officers and the communities they protect are in the dumps in many parts of the country. Many charges brought against police do seem politically motivated in cases where it turns out that deadly force was properly employed, and ubiquitous protests and marches seem to sway municipal leaders in some of their decisions. But none of that appears to be in play when considering the Walter Scott case. Even if we were to take Slager’s side of the story word for word (some of which sounds more than a little dubious) there remains the following picture framed in everyone’s mind. (Click to expand for larger version.)
No matter how badly the initial encounter went, and even if we were to believe that Scott was grabbing for the taser, look at the distance between the officer and the suspect in that photograph, taken seconds before Walter Scott died. He was jogging away and was much too far from Slager to be any threat to him. He didn’t have the taser because we see the moment in the video where Slager picks up the taser, carries it over and dumps it next to Scott’s body, thereby compromising the crime scene and calling all of his statements into question.
While this all remains “alleged” until a jury has their say, in my mind this remains a horrifying video of what could only be described as flat out murder. I highly doubt that a judge would dismiss the charges at this point and I’d look rather dubiously at any jury that allowed Slager to walk.