Moments after the struggle, Officer Slager reported on his radio: “Shots fired and the subject is down. He took my Taser,” according to police reports.
But the video, which was taken by a bystander and provided to The New York Times by the Scott family’s lawyer, presents a different account. The video begins in the vacant lot, apparently moments after Officer Slager fired his Taser. Wires, which carry the electrical current from the stun gun, appear to be extending from Mr. Scott’s body as the two men tussle and Mr. Scott turns to run.
Something — it is not clear whether it is the stun gun — is either tossed or knocked to the ground behind the two men, and Officer Slager draws his gun, the video shows. When the officer fires, Mr. Scott appears to be 15 to 20 feet away and fleeing. He falls after the last of eight shots.
The officer then runs back toward where the initial scuffle occurred and picks something up off the ground. Moments later, he drops an object near Mr. Scott’s body, the video shows.
On Monday, The Post and Courier noted, Slager had “served honorably in the military” before joining the North Charleston Police Department. Slager, 33, is a former U.S. Coast Guardsman and a five-year veteran of the North Charleston Police Department.” He has never been disciplined during his time on the force,” the paper pointed out, citing his then attorney David Aylor.
On Wednesday, the morning after the video of the shooting went viral, North Charleston Mayor Keith Sumney announced that not only had Slager been fired, but that all police officers would don body cameras in the future. Within the North Charleston Police Department, there was hardly the typical closing of ranks around Slager. “I have watched the video,” Police Chief Eddie Driggers said on Wednesday. “And I was sickened by what I saw. And I have not watched it since.”
Feiden said he tried to bring the recording to the police but got a bad feeling from the officers and left the station. “It was good he left,” his attorney told Morning Joe. “He was surrounded by officers who have lied repeatedly. They said they performed CPR; they didn’t.”
Willie Geist asked about a gap in Feiden’s video and wondered if the officers had performed CPR on Scott then. Feiden said he did not see the officers do anything more than check Scott’s pulse and examine his back for wounds. Feiden also said he did not hear Slagar yell “stop” at Scott before he fired at his back.
“I … thought about erasing the video,” Santana told MSNBC’s “All in With Chris Hayes” in an interview that aired Wednesday evening. “I felt that my life, with this information, might be in danger.”
“I know the cop didn’t do … the right thing. And like I say, I feel kind of scared about that,” he added…
In his interview with NBC’s Lauer, Santana suggested that he was giving media interviews in part to protect himself against retribution.
“At some point I thought about staying anonymous, and don’t show my face, don’t talk about it. But … if I wouldn’t show my face, everybody over there knows, including the police, who I am,” Santana said.
The mother of the South Carolina police officer who is seen in a video fatally shooting a man said that she cannot bring herself to watch the video.
“I just can’t,” Karen Sharpe, the mother of now-fired Police Officer Michael Slager, told ABC News. “Maybe to some people, ‘Well, you’re being in denial,’ but I’m sorry I just can’t. I just I know how Michael is.”…
“I just have to let it be and hope God takes care of everybody involved — not only my family but the Scott’s family — because I know they’re grieving just like I’m grieving,” she said.
You were quoted as Officer Slager’s attorney in the aftermath of this high-profile shooting but before the video came out. Now you’re not his attorney anymore. What happened?
I can’t specifically state what is the reason why or what isn’t the reason why I’m no longer his lawyer. All I can say is that the same day of the discovery of the video that was disclosed publicly, I withdrew as counsel immediately. Whatever factors people want to take from that and conclusions they want to make, they have the right to do that. But I can’t confirm from an attorney-client standpoint what the reason is.
It has been suggested that there may have been a serious fight before the camera started to roll, and that this may have clouded Officer Slager’s judgment. Perhaps. Either way, though, this possibility seems to be something of a red herring. By the standard rules of engagement, Scott’s panicked flight legally concluded any ongoing altercation, his departure from the fight signaling to Officer Slager that he no longer wanted to brawl. Police officers have reasonable latitude. But they are not permitted to shoot later in response to a threat that passed earlier, nor to stretch the definition of “danger” to its breaking point. Frankly, the idea that Slager had somehow “learned” that Scott was inherently dangerous is weak. Scott was unarmed and he was running away. Who, exactly, was he intimidating?
Equally irrelevant are Scott’s various transgressions — committed both before and during his murder. Should he have been running from the officer in the first instance? No, obviously not. Should he have paid his child support and responded to his many court summonses? Indeed he should. Is it normal for motorists to foment imbroglios over tail-light violations. Hardly. But men are imperfect, and this one made a few poor choices. He did not deserve to be killed for them.
All in all, this seems to be the case that we have been hearing about for a long, long while now — that much-previewed-but-never-quite-forthcoming case in which the white cop unnecessarily guns down the unarmed black man who is trying in earnest to get away. This is that case in which the 80 percent white police force takes a life from the 47 percent black city; in which the small infraction leads to the fatal consequence; in which there are no wrinkles to complicate the complaint. This, in other words, is what the shootings of Michael Brown and Trayvon Martin were not.
Dr. Ben Carson said he was “aghast” at the death of unarmed black man in South Carolina who was shot as he ran from the scene of a traffic stop. Carson called the death at the hands of a police officer an “execution.”
“Probably like most reasonable people you’re aghast,” the possible Republican presidential candidate and world-renowned neurosurgeon told BuzzFeed News in an interview on Wednesday. “It’s horrible to see an execution take place in the street like that.”…
“I think it’s so obvious that he was wrong that this provides an excellent opportunity for law enforcement personnel across the country to really come out and condemn this. And if they do that tells us a lot. And if they don’t that tells us a lot.”
This is a sad and tragic incident and having watched the complete video I can say there is NO excuse for what the police officer did in shooting Scott in the back. Heck, if it was necessary to draw his weapon, shots into the air as warning could have been enough. There is no excuse to shoot an unarmed person in the back, especially when you had their vehicle and knew their identity. A simple description and apprehension would have sufficed.
But we don’t need any speeches about police re-training. This was the action of one bad cop. Nor is it a reflection on the entire force. And I’m quite sure the North Charleston Police Department is angry about this incident as well, along with the tarnishing of their reputation to “Serve and Protect.”
It’s not necessary for anyone to try and claim this for political advantage. There is no need for the insidious false narrative of “hands up don’t shoot” or rhetorical signage of “black lives matter.”
I’ve been in policing for over 40 years. What we saw on the video of North Charleston police officer Michael Slager shooting unarmed Walter Scott eight times is the clearest example of documented wrongdoing I’ve ever seen. It’s not even a close call…
I started policing in the early 1970s. To say that policing is remotely like it was then is just wrong and foolish. There have been enormous improvements. One of the great ironies in American policing is that because of these highly controversial events that have been documented, there’s a perception that the profession is somehow out of control or failing in its responsibilities to engage in fair and impartial policing. That is of great concern. We cannot be believed if we don’t take decisive actions when our officers are clearly wrong. Bad police performance that’s not motivated by malice needs to be dealt with very sternly, including termination. But not every police error is necessarily something that should result in jail…
Every one of these well-documented instances sets us back. It doesn’t matter where. Milwaukee, Chicago, New York, Los Angeles. They all get judged by what happens in Wherever, USA. All too often, stories drive policy, not data. But look at the data in every big city. There have been significant declines in the use of force. With all due respect to the motives of those who take to the streets, it’s far easier to mobilize against perceived misconduct than to deal with systemic disparate violence in disadvantaged neighborhoods.
Our officers are depressed by the current environment today. They’re judged by the worst example anywhere in the country.
This is a defining moment for our profession. There is a lot of tension that has been boiling beneath the surface for a long time. Tragic as this shooting is, it takes events like these to force the kind of change that’s necessary.
Police officers need to use better judgment. We need to implement more reality-based training programs that allow cops to better prepare for these life-or-death decisions. Every scenario is different — there are times when officers have no time or cause to use non-lethal options — but all cops need to be trained in a range of responses. Sometimes poor tactics put officers in positions where they resort to deadly force that could have been avoided.
The shooting also shows what a powerful and important tool cameras can be. The cell phone video in South Carolina begins only after something drew the witness’s attention to what was happening. If we equipped more officers with body cameras, we could be able to capture every single incidence from beginning to end, allowing the public to get a full picture, not just a partial one.
Let’s suppose that some private citizen had not happened to catch this incident on video (at a sufficiently safe distance that the police do not seem to notice him until the incident is over). What then?
Well, then we would be left with the typical scenario we have in this situation – which is that a pretty significant chunk of conservatives would, without thinking, believe the officer’s story, assume that witnesses to the contrary were lying, and scoff at the idea that cops would plant evidence on an unarmed person that they just shot (in full view of their partner, who offered no obvious objection to what was occurring in front of him).
Moreover, even when the cop’s stated excuse obviously did not justify the shooting, people would still tend to buy it in the absence of this officer (apparently) planting his stun gun. In this case, the officer says: “Well, you see, he took my stun gun, so I had to shoot him several times in the back as he ran away,” and a not insignificant number of people would respond: “Seems legit.” Nevermind that cops take the position that the use of a taser is not lethal force and therefore by definition even if the guy was actually brandishing a taser at the officer, shooting him would not have been legally justified. Nevermind that the fact that Mr. Scott was shot in the back multiple times is a pretty clear indicator, even in the absence of video, that he wasn’t doing anything threatening to the officer even if he actually had taken his taser.
How do I know this? I know it from the reaction of many to the Eric Garner case…
Another day, another black man murdered by police.
The problem is that we’re not all on the same page about what we’re outraged over and what changes we want to take place. Police critics will claim this is another example of systemic police racism. Police defenders will claim that this was just one bad apple. We will hear the same calls for more oversight, the same protests that civilians are interfering in matters they couldn’t possibly understand…
Walter Scott’s killing should inspire less debate than other recent incidents because of the video. Watching the officer shoot an unarmed, nonthreatening man eight times makes it difficult to see this as anything less than an assassination. It sheds no new light. It just adds another body to the body count.
But Walter Scott does not have to be just another tragic name. It is up to us to not let his death be trivialized. If watching this video doesn’t convince holdouts that racism exists, nothing will. Does anyone really think the officer would have shot Scott if he were white?