North Charleston Police Officer Faces Murder Charge After Video Surfaces Showing Him Shooting Man In Back

BY Herschel Smith
6 years, 9 months ago

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.

[ … ]

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).

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  1. On April 8, 2015 at 7:13 am, MattBracken said:

    He’s not going to have a lot of fun in prison.

  2. On April 8, 2015 at 9:06 am, CharlemagneIsMyGrandDad said:

    This is beyond sickening.

    I cannot for the life of me understand why neighborhoods are not organizing their own “law enforcement” to bring authentic justice to these animals. Prick us, do we not bleed? Wrong us do we not seek revenge?

    What happened to the survival instinct????

  3. On April 8, 2015 at 2:44 pm, robertsgunshop said:

    It was bred out of the Black community starting with LBJ’s Great society bullshit. Give the masses free stuff and they will do your bidding. 40 years of failed policy have turned the masses into a bunch of willing sheep.

  4. On April 8, 2015 at 11:01 am, Archer said:

    I don’t want to make a racial issue out of this, but you just know that the Al Sharptons of the world are going to descend on the place, point, and yell, “SEE? Another unarmed black man murdered by a racist white cop! See? SEE!?”

    And this time, they might just be right. Broken clocks, blind pigs, and all those metaphors.

    But regardless of being proven wrong time after time, this incident will throw some nice, high-octane jet fuel on the red-hot smoldering coals of racial animosity we’re already dealing with.

    Strap in; it’s going to be a bumpy ride.

  5. On April 8, 2015 at 5:47 pm, watkinsfred said:

    I don’t think the cop is racist. What I do think is the cop believes he is the “boss” and noncompliance by the mortals is not to be tolerated and he lost his temper.

  6. On April 8, 2015 at 6:33 pm, Archer said:

    I don’t necessarily think the cop is racist, either. It might be so, or it might not be; that has yet to come out.

    (Re-reading my comment, I could see how I might give that impression. Mea culpa.)

    What I do believe, however, is that the national race baiters will portray this as racially-motivated – whether it is or not – and nothing will keep them from out in front of the cameras, preferably on-site. The cop-turned-alleged-murderer will be found guilty in the “court of public opinion” long before the criminal trial ever begins; they will see to that.

  7. On April 9, 2015 at 9:57 am, Josh said:

    Well, the NAACP is holding a news conference five minutes from now, so you were right on that point. But while I’m always and forever of the opinion that every citizen is entitled to the presumption of innocence, this cop isn’t an allegedly murder. I watched him murder a man on video. It looked like something out of a movie. No, his actions aren’t alleged. He put that man down like an animal, and I hope he rots until his death in a jail cell.

  8. On April 9, 2015 at 10:56 am, Archer said:

    I only include the word “alleged” because of the presumption of innocence. Whatever the evidence against him, in the eyes of the law, until and unless he’s convicted, he’s an “alleged murderer”.

    But I agree: that video evidence is pretty f***ing damning and pretty f***ing unquestionable. And Tennessee v. Garner won’t help him; there’s no reasonable probable cause to think the victim posed a continuing immediate threat of violence – with or without the cop’s Tazer – not when he was pulled over for a broken taillight and his outstanding warrant was for unpaid child support. [sarc] That’s some hardened criminal there. [/sarc]

    I predict he’s going down, and hard. My inclusion of “alleged” is a nod to due process tradition, and not an honorific for the killer cop.

  9. On April 8, 2015 at 7:31 pm, Michael Schlechter said:

    Agreed. I think it has more to do with “contempt for cop” and (much) less, if anything, to do with race (though it certainly could turn out that the officer is a member of some organization spouting ‘white-power” or some other tripe).

  10. On April 9, 2015 at 7:10 pm, Lt. Greyman, NVA said:

    If the black man attempted a gun grab, then the charge is attempted murder of a police officer. I believe the reads reads that an officer can use deadly force to stop a fleeing felon who is a danger to himself or the community. Is there a more dangerous felon than a attempted cop killer? A man so desperate to escape that he will kill anyone in his way, even a police officer, by snatching at his gun?

  11. On April 9, 2015 at 7:37 pm, Archer said:

    You are correct, except for one small detail: Scott was not a felon. He was pulled over for a broken taillight, and had an outstanding warrant for unpaid child support (which is along the lines of “failure to appear in court”).

    He may or may not have grabbed at the Tazer, but made no move to use it on Slagger and dropped it 3 feet in front of Slagger, who opened fire after the item hit the ground and Scott was 15-20 feet away.

    Bottom line: Scott’s hands were empty when he was shot, he does not have a violent record, and he was not pulled over and stopped on suspicion of any violent acts. There’s little, if any, probable cause to believe he’s a continuing danger to the community worthy of shooting in the back as he’s running away.

  12. On April 9, 2015 at 7:50 pm, Lt. Greyman, NVA said:

    Grabbing at the police officers belt for his weapons makes him a danger to the community. I don’t care why he was pulled over, the moment he went for the officers equipment he was desperate felon trying to escape and willing to do anything to get away, including attack a police officer. The responsibility is on the black to cooperate, not for the officer to successfully defend the attack. Any man attacks a police officer he might get shot. If he is running away he is a danger to everyone in the area. He might take hostages. Blacks need to own their bad behavior. Attacking an officer has always meant at least a nightstick. Going for his gun has always meant attempted murder. Since Mike Brown and Trayvon, blacks seem to think that taunting and assaulting an officer is a new sport or political theater. It’s not.

  13. On April 9, 2015 at 8:29 pm, Herschel Smith said:

    Nice touch. I like how you invoked the issue of race, as if it has anything whatsoever to do with Tenn. v. Garner, and man being created in God’s image (thus leading to the body of laws and regulations we have today and what constitutes a justifiable shooting). You turned to thuggish behavior throughout history, showing yourself to have no basis whatsoever for the shooting. It has been done in the past, so it’s okay. So you argued. Again, nice touch. Hung by your own petard as if were.

  14. On April 10, 2015 at 10:55 am, Archer said:

    The reason he was pulled over makes a difference. It affects what’s called the “totality of circumstances”.

    It’s coming out now that the Tazer may have been used before the shooting, probably by the officer. This means the one-shot cartridge was spent, and Scott somehow overcame the shock or was missed by the probes. Without its cartridge, the Tazer is useless (not even as a club; they’re far too small/light), but more importantly, it means that Scott did not grab for Slagger’s belt or anything on it (and he never went for the gun anyway; stay on-point here, Lt. Bait-and-Switch).

    Either way, again, whether Scott had the Tazer or not, it was on the ground 3 feet in front of Slagger when he opened fire; Scott was unarmed when he ran away, and the “totality of circumstances” (middle-aged unarmed man, no criminal history other than a “child support” bench warrant and a broken taillight, not even a good runner, etc.) does not spell a continuing danger to the community worthy of shooting in the back.

    If you’re going to argue, argue the facts and rational conclusions based on the facts. Leave your opinion, baseless assumptions, and agenda out.

  15. On April 10, 2015 at 11:07 am, Herschel Smith said:

    Good points, all. But it’s even simpler than that. I know a good cop, Captain Dickson Skipper, retired, CMPD, who told me that he has made hundreds of felony arrests in his career, and not once has he ever had to use anything beyond pepper spray. OC spray goes a long way towards in capacitation.

  16. On April 9, 2015 at 7:41 pm, Josh said:

    Oh look, mr. lieutenant state-sponsored gang member is here to slander the dead and defend his fellow black-boot.

    What a shock.

    This may be news for you, mr. lieutenant gang member, but you’re not special. Tennessee v. Garner decided that, but we all knew it anyway. Your ranks are filled with uneducated, emasculated men living out their power fantasies with a gun and a fast car.

    Your ilk is fast running out of rope. Don’t look down.

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You are currently reading "North Charleston Police Officer Faces Murder Charge After Video Surfaces Showing Him Shooting Man In Back", entry #13685 on The Captain's Journal.

This article is filed under the category(s) Police and was published April 7th, 2015 by Herschel Smith.

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