What if someone hadn’t filmed officer shooting?

We can’t watch this horrible video without wondering, “What if?” What if someone hadn’t been in a perfect position to see a South Carolina cop execute a black man, who had been stopped for a broken tail light? How might today’s discussion be different?

It’s disturbing, of course, which is why everyone should watch it.

Officer Michael Slager is charged with murder in the death of Walter Scott in North Charleston, S.C.

“When you’re wrong, you’re wrong,” the city’s mayor said. “If you make a bad decision, don’t care if you’re behind the shield or just a citizen on the street, you have to live by that decision.”

“It would have never come to light. They would have swept it under the rug, like they did with many others,” Walter Scott Sr. told NBC’s Today show today, speaking of the video’s release.

“The way he [Slager] was shooting that gun, it looked like he was trying to kill a deer,” he said.

southcarolina_vidgrab
(Video link)

Perhaps this can change the debate in the aftermath of Ferguson, Mo., in which protestors couldn’t break through the assertion that pointing out the existence of bad cops and systemic inequity is an allegation against all police.

“It’s easy to dismiss Slager as ‘one bad apple,’ and certainly it’s hard to believe that most officers would make the same terrible choices that he made,” Will Bunch writes today in the Philadelphia Inquirer. “But this incident is also a clarion call for those seeking meaningful changes in policing, that now is not the time to let up. If nothing else, police forces in too many places doesn’t look like the public they serve.”

“We don’t advocate violence, we advocate change,” Mr. Scott’s brother tells the Post and Courier of Charleston.

Yesterday, an online fund was set up for the officer’s defense. “Policemen and policewomen all over our country are under assault from liberal interests who hate the police. This case is going to be bigger than Ferguson,” the appeal said.

It was taken down after about an hour.

Archive: South Carolina indicted three white cops in four months, and it’s probably not a coincidence (Washington Post).

  • Kassie

    No, everyone shouldn’t watch it. I refuse. Just like I won’t watch beheading videos, I won’t watch this type of violent killing either. I don’t have to watch it to know what happened in the video and it seem very improper that we keep disrespecting the victim by passing around a video of his death.

    • His family approved the release of the video before it was released, fyi.

      • Kassie

        I know. Doesn’t mean it isn’t disrespectful. Families do lots of disrespectful things to the dead.

        • Without the video, their family member is just another dead black guy at the hands of a cop. And he’d have been villified as a criminal in the absence of proof to the contrary.

          • Kassie

            I didn’t say the video shouldn’t be released. What I’m saying is, it shouldn’t be shown. There is no reason for the press to put this on their websites for everyone to see. I’ve read the descriptions and that is enough for me.

            When a journalist has their head chopped off, do I need to see the evidence? Nope, I can read the description and believe it. And you wouldn’t put it on this website either. They quickly stopped showing videos of people jumping from the towers on 9/11. Knowing it happened was enough.

            I understand, in theory, the purpose of this, but someone pointed out on twitter that this is a lot like passing around lynching postcards. I’d bet every penny I have that there are racists out there viewing this video and cheering on the cop. That is not respectful.

          • Have you ever watched the Zapruder film?

          • Kassie

            Of course, there is no way to avoid it. Honestly, I avoid pretty much all videos of real people dying that I can. I once accidentally saw a video of someone getting their head cut off with a chainsaw and years later there are nights where I lie awake thinking about it.

          • crystals

            I think there’s a notable difference between the ISIS executions and deaths of Walter Scott, Tamir Rice, and more. I don’t see a lot of people disagreeing about how unjust the deaths of Jim Foley and the others were–I see a significant portion of our country disagreeing about whether the deaths of black men in America at the hands of police are unjust.

            It’s horrifying, and it’s everyone’s right to NOT watch–but I think we actually need more people to see this for what it is, and I think Walter Scott’s family and black people across the country are saying “See? This. Finally, you can SEE what we’re talking about and living through.”

          • emilyb2

            It wasn’t until the press started showing actual video of Vietnam that the public starting turning against that.

          • Sort of. A lot of kids coming home in a box and a draft that made everyone — kind of — have skin in the game had more to do with it, though.

        • Penny

          Reminds me of the cop who shot that young Asian man in North Minneapolis some years back while the cop was jacked-up on Red Bull. Innocent my fanny.

    • Nick K

      You should watch it. It is even more horrifying than it sounds when you read/hear about it. When you watch it you can see the casual disregard with which the officer shoots that man and the shocking way he plants the evidence. I’m glad South Carolina has the death penalty, because that police officer is a monster.

    • Angel

      I understand how you may be offended by its content and feel that the media blowing up over this may be disrespectful to the dead. However, having that point of view toward this specific video proves the ignorance you have toward racism and violence. It cannot be lumped with another violent videos. This video itself captures the blunt racism of society that requires everyone’s attention. His man’s death cannot be justified by ANY wrong doings he has done in the past, he died in the most disrespectful way possible and you, and everyone, need to acknowledge that. This video offends you? That is completely irrelevant and ironically disrespectful for this man who died to prove injustice in our culture. I’d say everyone should watch it to respect the man.

      • Alright, stop! I’ve already deleted several message so let’s just go over it one more time.

        The rules of NewsCut are you do NOT judge other commenters with personal attacks. You speak ONLY to the issue. We start with the premise that commenters have been open and honest, and they are to be treated with respect.

        Disagree with assertions, sure. But leaving the name calling and judging out of the discussion.

        Logical arguments are NOT enhanced by personal attacks.

        Stick to the issue.

      • Jerry

        The fact that you don’t want to watch a man get murdered doesn’t make you complicit in racism, it just makes you someone who doesn’t want to watch a man get murdered.

        Also, he didn’t die to prove the injustice in our culture, he died because of the injustice in our culture.

        • Angel

          Fair point, thank you. I got a bit excited there.
          Main point is that it’s very important that we see this injustice in our culture and really tease out why this is happening from just “oh, there goes another racist shooting”. This police officer is a result of our culture that we are also part of, we need to take responsibility as a whole society to help officers like him to really understand why this is wrong. His inability to understand that is reflective of our neglect toward people like him rather than giving compassion to changing it.

      • Kassie

        I am NOT offended by how the media is blowing up over this. I think the media should tell this story far and wide and should have been telling this same story for years. I never said his death was justified in any way. I never said he didn’t die in a disrespectful way. You are putting words in my mouth.

        What I said is that this is disrespectful to show a video of this man’s last moments. I find it offensive that showing violence like this is at all acceptable in our society. I brought up the point that some find this similar to passing around postcards of hangings. Just as terror groups use videos of killing journalists for propaganda, racists will use this video for propaganda.

        • Veronica

          I’m with you 100%.

    • BustDaMaTriX

      Until the epidemic of cop violence in the U.S. ends it should be shown at every opportunity.

      • Peace

        there is cop violence everywhere in the world. Problem is the people who hire violent people for their own benefit. they dont think, they obey, and they got guns!
        This is some great documentary from barcelona: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QIeFJqt0rqg

  • jon

    Pulled over for a burnt out tail light, but they are on what appears to be a dirt path, with no cars around… how’d they get there?

    • Jeff

      I’m wondering what made him run? And who was shooting the video? It seems like they would have noticed. Just curious.

      • Kassie

        I have heard he was running because he had been jailed in the past for not paying Child Support and may have thought it would happen again.

      • jon

        yeah I suspect a lot happened before we started seeing anything.

        Supposedly Walter was tazed before the struggle ensue (and I’ve been told tasers record when fired so that information will likely be confirmed)
        Getting tazed and not falling down is the kind of thing that will make a person want to get far away from that situation.

  • Gary F

    If there wasn’t a video? Officially, it would have gone to trial and we would have found out through multiple autopsies, that the man took many shots to the back, and the shooting was’t justified. We don’t have any video before the shooting, but I can’t see a need for this shooting.

    Unofficially, there would have been a uprising of the local community, which is justified, but then the Guy Fawkes masked knuckleheads looking for a chance to riot and cause social destruction would have whipped everyone up, including the media, into a frenzy and we’d have Ferguson all over again.

    Glad to see calmer heads prevailing.

    • jon

      prevailing so far…

      Even with prime it takes two days for the Guy Fawkes masks to get delivered…
      Shooting happened Saturday, and video was released last night.

    • BJ

      >Officially, it would have gone to trial

      really? Without the video we would be luck to have it get past a grand jury.

      • Gary F

        Knowing what we know today, with the experience in Ferguson, this will be handled with much more attention to detail and proper procedure.

        • Postal Customer

          Baloney. Total baloney. There is video of what happened to Eric Garner and there still was no indictment.

          Officer Slager would’ve gotten off scot-free and you know it.

    • Chris Hatch

      actually you are wrong here.

      The cop planted the taser and the initial statement indicated that Walter Scott fought the officer, so I doubt any charges would have ever been pressed.

      kind of like all the other unarmed men who just happen to reach for their waistbands before getting shot by police.

  • Ben Chorn

    If there wasn’t a video we wouldn’t be able to see that unlike the police report that was filed the officers DIDN’T perform CPR. We also wouldn’t be able to see the officer plant the stun gun on the victim after he was killed.

    More reasons to implement body cameras.

    • Same as the shooting in Cleveland. Officers didn’t assist the boy they shot.

      A nurse I know says this is common for police he’s encountered in the field. They don’t think it’s their job to help the people they shoot. I’m not saying it’s right or wrong, but it’s an attitude he reports.

      • Ben Chorn

        What gets me isn’t so much they didn’t perform CPR- it’s that they say they did in the police report.

        • emilyb2

          Not only not help, but why cuff the man? He was clearly not a threat after how many bullets in the back.

  • Anna

    Was the Civil Rights Movement just a mirage on the social landscape? Have we replaced black lynching with shooting unarmed black men for minor traffic offenses?

    Abraham, Martin and John

    Anybody here seen my old friend, Abraham? Can you tell me where he’s
    gone? He freed a lot of people but it seems the good they die young. I
    just looked around and he was gone.

    Anybody here seen my old friend, Martin? Can you tell me where he’s gone? He freed a lot of people but it seem the good they die young. I just looked around and he was gone.

    Anybody here seen my old friend, John? Can you tell me where he’s gone? He freed a lot of people but it seems the good they die young. I just looked around and he was gone.

    Didn’t you love the things that they stood for? Didn’t they try to find some good for you and me? And we’ll be free someday soon, it’s gonna be one day…

    Anybody here seen my old friend, Bobby? Can you tell me where he’s gone? I thought I saw him walkin’ up over the hill with Abraham, Martin and John.

  • Ron Fresquez

    I spent three years working in North and South Carolina as an Executive on Loan for a consortium of independent telephone companies. My first day on the job in a small town 60 southwest of Charlotte where I was headquartered, I was taken to the car pool to select a car for my use. I selected a car and was told by the white car pool manager that I didn’t want that car because “Schmiddy drove that car yesterday and it still smelled like Nigger.” This was about 8 years ago and I am sure little has changed. Black lives still don’t matter and racism is still alive and well in the South…

    • Fred Durst

      News flash, racism isn’t just alive in teh South. Common mis-conception.

  • Jim G

    I’m totally flabbergasted, stunned, and enraged by the causal, cold-blooded reality of black justice as administered by Slager. Then comes the immediate knee-jerk establishment of a crowd-sourced defense fund for him. This is American justice? The white cop gets his day in court… the black man, not so much.

  • MrE85

    Horrifying. There was an incident involving my dad in 1950s Indianapolis that I was reminded of. Thankfully, everyone lived that day — but only because another officer’s gun misfired, five times. It was pointed squarely at the back of a black suspect fleeing from a minor traffic stop. It was one of the few stories about being a cop my dad ever told me.

  • Jeff C.

    Thanks for posting, Bob. I probably wouldn’t have watched the video otherwise. It is truly horrifying and so much more impactful than the words often used to describe this. “An unarmed black man was shot by a white police officer.” That phrase doesn’t mean much anymore – I have heard it too often. To see the killing – to see the elderly man running away from the man about to murder him – has filled me with more sadness and anger than those words ever have. I agree – everyone should watch this video. We need something to jolt us into action. This video could be that thing. Maybe that would bring some meaning to his senseless execution.

  • jon

    So a thought occurs.
    When a pilot crashes a commercial airline, there is a discussion both here, and else where on the net, about replacing on board pilots completely with automated system or remote systems.

    Will there be a discussion about replacing lethal force that police carry with them now with improved non-lethal force options. (or even just dropping the gun and carrying only the tazer.)

    I’m sure that conversation won’t even come up (even though it seems unlikely, just like removing pilots from the cockpit).

    • Jeff

      I don’t like guns, but then bad guys would have to agree to go to tazers too.

  • Vince Tuss

    What if there was a video but no one could see it because the state had classified it to be nonpublic data?

  • Adam

    Without the video: The story fed to the Post and Courier by the North Charleston DA, PD and Slager’s attorney would have would have been it.

    http://www.postandcourier.com/article/20150406/PC16/150409558/1268/north-charleston-police-say-officer-who-fatally-shot-man-pulled-him-over-because-of-brake-light

    • Veronica

      Oh my goodness. That’s…..wow. Everyone should read that story. That officer CLEARLY thought he was going to get away with what he did, and yeah, no need to argue what things would have been like if the murder wasn’t filmed.

  • Mike

    I think it is no stretch to conclude that the video will provide much more accountability than if it didn’t exist and we were to take the police at their word. We are constantly bombarded with the false assertion that at some sort of collective, societal level we should trust police more than anyone else by nature of the position. This case (and others) seems to indicate that there are plenty of police that are not the pinnacle of morality we want to believe and trust, but indeed human like the rest of us- sometimes they do terrible things. Much like the rest of us, they should be punished accordingly.

  • Rhonda M.

    I see a lot of people here expressing concern that good cops don’t stand up and speak out against what is happening. It would really be such a comfort to see a few truly descent police officers speak out against the dirty ones. Are they afraid? Is the power (or threat) of the other cops, administration, etc. enough to cause the ones who know they should be saying something to stay silent? I hope those officers we are talking about that know they should speak up will read these comments (you know they are) and decide that honesty, integrity, morality, and trust are worth standing up for. Even some anonymous commentary from LEOs about what is happening would be encouraging. Will any of you LEOs be bold enough to say something? Have you no shame in what the fallen officers are doing or no pride in yourself as a LEO and enough of a sense of decency to defend the defenseless, even by speaking out anonymously. I think the good LEOs need to be a part the changes to be made, and I hope some will start to speak out.