Update (4/8/2015 2:25 p.m.): Mayor Keith Summey of North Charleston said in a press conference that Officer Michael Slager, who is charged with murder, has been fired from the police department, though his pregnant wife will still be receiving health benefits. Additionally, the North Charleston Police Department has received a grant to equip every officer with a body cam.
Another Black man was shot and killed by a white police officer, and newly surfaced video footage clearly shows the individual fleeing before the officer draws his weapon. The officer has since been charged with homicide, but in light of the ever-growing grim list of police slayings of unarmed black men from Ferguson to Eric Garner to Tamir Rice, what are the chances of a conviction
Walter Scott, the deceased, was apparently pulled over during a traffic stop on Saturday and fled his vehicle when the officer, Michael T. Slager, pursued him into a grassy area where a bystander recorded the incident.
In the video, submitted to law enforcement by Walter Scott’s family, Officer Slager can be seen in a brief scuffle with Scott who then flees with what appears to be a stun gun’s trailing wires winding out behind him. It appears the stun gun itself falls to the ground and the officer draws his weapon. Scott is at a significant distance when Slager fires eight shots.
After the officer checks the crumpled form of Scott, he tells the downed man to “put his hands behind his back.” After no response, Slager then places Scott’s hands behind his back, walks over to the original scene of their encounter and returns with an object that he drops near the still unmoving form.
According to the New York Times, the footage directly contradicts certain aspects of Officer Slager’s initial reporting. “Shots fired and the subject is down. He took my Taser,” Slager reported on the radio. If the item dropped by Walter Scott was indeed the officer’s Taser, then it does not appear that his stun gun was in fact taken.
Police reports also state that CPR was performed on Walter Scott at the scene, but again the video shows that no such emergency medical procedure was at any time underway for several minutes after the shooting.
In the cases of Eric Garner and Tamir Rice, footage also showed a non-threatening Black man and a 12-year-old boy being killed by white police officers, but despite such evidence, neither officers in the two incidences faced even so much as a trial.
Despite Mayor Keith Summeyof North Charleston announcing the arrest of Officer Slager on murder charges and the involvement of the Justice Department, past history suggests the very real possibility that another Black man’s gun slaying at the hands of the police will change little about policing tactics and societal prejudice.