CBS Sacramento: A federal court has rejected a challenge to California’s gun safety law, possibly paving the way for a requirement that new guns mark the bullets they fire so they can be traced. The ruling on Wednesday was a defeat for two gun rights groups that argued the Unsafe Handgun Act violated the constitutional right to bear arms. The law prohibits the manufacture or sale in California of any gun that doesn’t meet certain safety requirements. It was aimed at outlawing cheap [read more]
He discharged eight shots from his sidearm, with time to aim, with a pause between the seventh and eighth shots, all eight shots taken in the direction of the victim’s back while the victim was running away.
A white North Charleston police officer was arrested on a murder charge and the FBI opened a civil rights investigation Tuesday after video surfaced of the lawman shooting eight times at a 50-year-old black man as he ran away.
Walter L. Scott, a Coast Guard veteran and father of four, died Saturday after Patrolman 1st Class Michael T. Slager, 33, shot him several times in the back.
The video footage, which The Post and Courier obtained Tuesday from a source who asked to remain anonymous, shows the end of the confrontation between the two on Saturday after Scott ran from a traffic stop. It was the first piece of evidence contradicting an account Slager gave earlier this week through his attorney.
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The three-minute clip of Saturday’s shooting starts shaky, but it steadies as Slager and Scott appear to be grabbing at each other’s hands.
Slager has said through his attorney that Scott had wrested his Taser from him during a struggle.
The video appears to show Scott slapping at the officer’s hands as several objects fall to the ground. It’s not clear what the objects are.
Scott starts running away. Wires from Slager’s Taser stretch from Scott’s clothing to the officer’s hands.
With Scott more than 10 feet from Slager, the officer draws his pistol and fires seven times in rapid succession. After a brief pause, the officer fires one last time. Scott’s back bows, and he falls face first to the ground near a tree.
After the gunfire, Slager glances at the person taking the video, then talks into his radio.
The cameraman curses, and Slager yells at Scott as sirens wail.
“Put your hands behind your back,” the officer shouts before he handcuffs Scott.
As another lawman runs to Scott’s side.
Scott died there.
[ … ]
Slager said earlier this week in the statement from his attorney at the time that his encounter with Scott had started Saturday morning as a routine traffic stop.
His department said he pulled over Scott’s Mercedes-Benz sedan near Remount and Craig roads because it had a broken brake light. But at some point, Scott ran away with Slager in pursuit on foot. Scott’s passenger stayed with the Mercedes.
During the foot chase, Scott confronted Slager, according to the lawyer’s statement. Slager got out his Taser to subdue the man, but Scott took the device during a struggle, the statement said. That’s when the officer fired at Scott several times because he “felt threatened,” it added.
Now listen very carefully. We all know how abused and overused the idea is that an officer can “feel threatened” and thus discharge his weapon at anything and everything. But this doesn’t even rise to the level of abusive policy. The officer had the temerity calmly to walk back to the scene of the struggle, pick up the taser, and casually drop it next to the now-deceased body.
What’s the lesson? The officer didn’t know a video of his actions would be produced. It was going to be his word against a dead man’s word, and we all know how that would have gone down. He reflexively turned to the best, surest, most trusted and well-worn defense cops use: “I felt threatened.” There is the first tier of concern with this incident, that is, a shooting in the back that violates the constitution. But the second tier of concern pertains to coverup of the shooting.
And as long as that defense exists and is reflexively accepted by a gullible public and a willing judicial system, “I felt threatened” will keep being used and cops will continue to perpetrate this sort of thing. But the fifth amendment clearly doesn’t allow this officer to kill the unarmed man running away, who is no threat to the officer, by the way, and who hadn’t shown himself to be a threat to anyone else (he was stopped because of a minor traffic violation).