South Carolina Police Officer Charged In The Shooting Death Of Walter Scott, An Unarmed Black Man

White police officer Michael T. Slager of North Charleston, South Carolina. was charged with murder yesterday after shooting an unarmed Black man to death on Saturday. Devastating video footage shows 50-year-old father of four Walter L. Scott frantically running away as Slager shoots him a whopping eight times in the back. The encounter began with a routine traffic stop over a broken taillight, but allegedly escalated when Scott ran away from Slager.

In case it needs mentioning, the Supreme Court has maintained that police officers are only authorized to use deadly force against a running suspect when that person “poses a significant threat of death or serious physical injury to the officer or others.” It is woefully unclear how anyone could attempt to argue that Scott, who did not have a weapon in his possession and was not attacking anyone, was “a significant threat of death” to Slager.

Slager initially insisted that Scott had taken his stun gun from him in a physical confrontation, but the video contradicts that account and instead features a desperate man running for his life. It’s satisfying to see Slager facing charges in light of Ferguson and other incidents of police brutality that saw very little legal action, but why did this needless shooting happen at all? No amount of punishment for Slager will bring Scott back, and that’s the painful reality that will follow Scott’s family for the rest of their lives. The footage, taken by a bystander, could serve as a major key in seeking justice. It’s deeply disturbing and heart-wrenching to watch, so prepare yourself if you plan to press play. Our thoughts are with Scott’s family and friends.

[New York Times]

[Image via Christina Elmore/Post and Courier]