Lesson to crooks and cops. There is video everywhere. If you’re a crook, you may remember the old days, when you could break into someplace or stick up somebody, and have a reasonable chance of getting away with it, even with eyewitnesses because eyewitnesses can be impeached as unreliable.
If you’re a cop especially, you could always count on investigators not to mention juries being sympathetic to cops…wanting to believe cops when they explained and excused their use of deadly force because they feared their lives were endangered or because a suspect was grabbing for the cops gun or making a menacing move that justified the use of deadly force as necessary self-defense.
The video out of North Charleston, South Carolina is vivid horrifying proof that like crooks, cops sometimes lie…and as with crooks, video can provide graphic proof that sometimes cops commit murder in the name of law and order.
That’s apparently what 33-year old officer Michael Slager did following a traffic stop of an unarmed 50-year old black man named Walter Scott.
Stopped because he had a broken taillight on his Mercedes and fearful of being arrested for unpaid child support, Scott runs from Slager. When he is about 15 to 20 feet away the officer calmly aims his weapon and fires eight times…pumping three shots into Scott’s back…one into his butt and a fifth hitting his ear.
The black man crumples to the grass after the final shot rings out, dead.
Unlike any of the cases we’ve talked about recently, more than Michael Brown in Ferguson or Eric Garner in Staten Island or Akai Gurley in Brooklyn, the apparent murder of Walter Scott is clear, unequivocal proof that sometimes cops are too quick to use deadly force, disproportionately in cases involving black men.
And thank God for the videotape, which not only shows how unthreatening the dead black man’s behavior was…and just as tellingly, shows the cop apparently attempting to plant evidence on the dead man to buttress the cop’s lie about how the guy attempted to grab the cop’s weapon, which the cop claimed made the his use of deadly force necessary.
The group Black Lives Matter is protesting today in North Charleston…But this video should be mandatory viewing in every police academy in the land…Body cameras must be mandatory on every officer’s vest…cops have to know that they cannot shoot someone in the back. Black families cannot be more afraid of cops than they are of crooks. This has to stop. New rule: "if you see something, videotape something." As my pal Dan Rather used to say, the cameras never blinks.