A police officer in North Charleston, South Carolina, was just charged with murder after a video was released that shows him executing an unarmed African American man. But now it is clear that Officer Michael T. Slager, his partner and the department all spun a web of lies about the victim in this case.
Before you entertain the idea that there may be some ambiguity in this incident, watch the video of the incident below…
The video clearly shows Officer Slager, 33, shooting and killing a man who was running for his life.
But Slager had claimed that he “feared for his life” because the fleeing suspect had supposedly taken his stun gun in a confrontation after a traffic stop on Saturday.
But the video clearly shows the officer planting the stun gun on the dead body of the man, Walter L. Scott, 50, who was fired at eight times as he fled.
The North Charleston mayor formally announced the state charges against Slager at a news conference Tuesday evening.
Scott was shot early Saturday morning. Between then and when charges were filed, Officer Slager, his department and his attorney, presented and stood by his version of the events, that we now know were complete lies.
Think Progress writes that “On Saturday the police released a statement alleging that Scott had attempted to gain control of a Taser from Slager and that he was shot in a struggle over the weapon.”
The Post And Courier reported that: “Police in a matter of hours declared the occurrence at the corner of Remount and Craig roads a traffic stop gone wrong, alleging the dead man fought with an officer over his Taser before deadly force was employed.”
A statement released by North Charleston police spokesman Spencer Pryor said a man ran on foot from the traffic stop and an officer deployed his department-issued Taser in an attempt to stop him.
That did not work, police said, and an altercation ensued as the men struggled over the device. Police allege that during the struggle the man gained control of the Taser and attempted to use it against the officer.
The officer then resorted to his service weapon and shot him, police alleged.
Think Progress notes that Slager “was able to use the authoritative voice of the police department to bolster his narrative.”
Conversely, Walter could only be defended by friends and family, which the mainstream media, police and even much of the general public never seems to trust.
“Walter was a nice, good, honest person… He was a grown man working hard to take care of his family,” Samuel Scott, the victim’s cousin said to local reporters.
By Monday, Slager released a statement through his attorney. The Post And Courier comments:
Slager thinks he properly followed all procedures and policies before resorting to deadly force, lawyer David Aylor said in a statement.
“When confronted, Officer Slager reached for his Taser — as trained by the department — and then a struggle ensued,” Aylor said.
“The driver tried to overpower Officer Slager in an effort to take his Taser.”
Seconds later, the report added, he radioed that the suspect wrested control of the device. Even with the Taser’s prongs deployed, the device can still be used as a stun gun to temporarily incapacitate someone.
Slager “felt threatened and reached for his department-issued firearm and fired his weapon,” his attorney added.
If it were not for the video, there is little question that Slager would have been believed and would have continued with his wanton abuses and murders. He acted in such a callous manner in the video that it is clear he was used to the sort of coverup he was engaged in.
The State reports that “[p]olice in South Carolina have fired their weapons at 209 suspects in the past five years” but there was not a single conviction in these cases. “We ruled all the shootings were justified – and we looked at dozens and dozens of them,” a former prosecutor told The State.
This is why the police fear citizens armed with cameras more than anything. Tonight, this murderer is off the streets! But if a brave by-stander would not have taken the initiative to film the police, then Slager would still be “policing” the streets and murdering more innocent people.
The police report was filled with lies, but those lies are believed by default every time a murder like this is carried out by law enforcement officers.
Why does the public and legal system give the police the benefit of the doubt, even as we continue to document such abuses? The video shows part of the problem: the collusion of other police officers. Even though the second officer, who comes on to the scene later in the video, did not do the shooting, he lied in his police report to support his partner – Slager.
In the days to come, we can expect more scrutinizing of Slager’s partner and the lies he wrote in his police report. Stay tuned!
(Article by M. David and S. Wooten)