A police shooting that shows why we need body cameras

On Tuesday night in Riverview, Florida, 27-year-old Dylan Ray Scott was shot and killed by sheriff’s deputies following a standoff in his pickup truck. This isn’t a police shooting that you’ll be hearing about on the national news and there won’t be any marches in the street demanding “justice for Dylan” because Scott was white. But the shooting has still produced some of the usual pushback in the local press and social media groups talking about “killer cops” and the usual charges that emerge after law enforcement winds up in a lethal force encounter. What should make this case different if there’s any justice in the world is that the entire encounter was captured on police dashcams and body cameras from beginning to end. Having Scott wind up dead in his vehicle wasn’t what any of the law enforcement officers on the scene wanted, but it’s a perfect example of why we should welcome the ubiquitous use of police body cams all across the country. The reason is that there was one person who definitely wanted the encounter to end this way and that person was Dylan Ray Scott. (NY Post)

“No matter what videos like these show, there will still be people who will just call him a ‘killer cop,’” said Eugene O’Donnell, a professor at John Jay College of Criminal Justice and a former NYPD officer and Queens prosecutor — adding that it “underscores how uninformed” the debate on police shootings has become.

“Especially in this unforgiving climate, officers like this just get unfairly branded, and even 10 years from now it will be used against them if they are ever again made to use deadly force.”

Police body camera footage shows Scott racing away from a deputy who first stopped him, only coming to a halt after his pickup was T-boned by another car — with a female passenger with him getting out safely before the shooting.

Let’s go to the video footage of the events in question before breaking it down. It should probably go without saying that this footage may be highly disturbing for some viewers. (My apologies for the auto-play, but this player doesn’t allow you to disable it. The sound is muted, however.)

Here are the things we know about this situation and why any sort of blowback against the sheriff’s deputies is inappropriate. Bear with me because it’s a sizable list.

Scott was well known to local law enforcement. At the time he was pulled over he had multiple outstanding warrants and previous convictions for burglary, drug possession, resisting an officer with violence, battery on a law enforcement officer, and fleeing and attempting to elude police.

Instead of cooperating with the deputies, Scott attempted to flee in his pickup truck, colliding with someone unrelated to the incident who was later hospitalized.

Dylan Scott had written a note to his mother earlier this year, telling her that he wanted to “commit suicide by cop.” His mother produced the note for the court in a previous case.

When the deputies surrounded the truck, Scott kept his hands near his waistband, claiming to have a gun. He refused to show his hands despite the deputies literally begging him for four minutes not to make them shoot him. They repeatedly assured Scott that he could be out of jail on bond in the morning and it “didn’t have to end this way.”

Despite all of that, Scott suddenly lunged from the passenger side of his truck toward the officers, bringing his hand up as if he was holding a weapon. (Scott turned out to not have a gun, but the deputies had no way of knowing that.)

In other words, Dylan Scott was given every chance in the world to walk away uninjured. He chose to intentionally force the officers to shoot him. Now two of the officers are on administrative leave and they’re being called “killer cops” by some of the locals. And this is precisely why we need dash cameras and body cameras for police officers. Without that type of evidence being made available to the public, this could have readily turned into yet another rallying point to be used by activists who want to “defund” or “abolish” the police, particularly if Dylan Scott had happened to have been a minority suspect.