[Pnews] Everything The Police Said About Walter Scott’s Death Before A Video Showed What Really Happened

Prisoner News ppnews at freedomarchives.org
Wed Apr 8 15:57:57 EDT 2015


  Everything The Police Said About Walter Scott’s Death Before A Video
  Showed What Really Happened
  <http://thinkprogress.org/justice/2015/04/07/3644189/everything-police-said-walter-scotts-death-video-showed-really-happened/>

by Judd Legum 
<https://thinkprogress.org/?person=judd><https://twitter.com/intent/user?screen_name=JuddLegum> 
Posted on April 7, 2015 at 9:43 pm Updated: April 8, 2015 at 1:57 pm
*https://thinkprogress.org/justice/2015/04/07/3644189/everything-police-said-walter-scotts-death-video-showed-really-happened/*

On Tuesday, South Carolina police officer Michael Thomas Slager was 
charged with first-degree murder 
<http://thinkprogress.org/justice/2015/04/07/3644139/sc-cop-charged-with-murder/> 
for the shooting death of Walter Scott. Charges against South Carolina 
police officers for shooting someone are extremely rare 
<http://www.thestate.com/news/local/crime/article15654974.html>. But 
what was particularly remarkable in this case was, for at least two 
days, Slager was apparently unaware that video of the entire incident 
existed.

This provides a unique opportunity to observe how one police officer 
sought to avoid accountability for his actions.

Between the time when he shot and killed Scott early Saturday morning 
and when charges were filed, Slager — using the both the police 
department and his attorney — was able to provide his “version” of the 
events. He appeared well on his way to avoiding charges and pinning the 
blame on Scott.

Then a video, shot by an anonymous bystander, revealed exactly what 
happened 
<http://thinkprogress.org/justice/2015/04/07/3644139/sc-cop-charged-with-murder/>. 


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 the initial 
story <http://www.postandcourier.com/article/20150404/PC16/150409635>:

    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.

The story clearly came from Slager but he was able to use the 
authoritative voice of the police department to bolster his narrative. 
Meanwhile, Scott could only be defended by friends who did not witness 
the incident. “Walter was a nice, good, honest person 
<http://www.postandcourier.com/article/20150404/PC16/150409635>… He was 
a grown man working hard to take care of his family,” said Samuel Scott, 
the victim’s cousin.

By Sunday, the police department had clammed up and refused to release 
any additional information 
<http://www.postandcourier.com/article/20150405/PC16/150409588> about 
the events. (It’s unclear when the department became aware of the 
existence of the video.)

On Monday, Slager sought to reinforce his narrative, this time releasing 
a statement through his attorney. From The Post And Courier 
<http://www.postandcourier.com/article/20150406/PC16/150409558>:

    *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 the video had not surfaced, that’s where the story might have ended. 
In nearly all cases where an officer fires a weapon, that is the end of 
the story. A study by The State found “[p]olice in South Carolina have 
fired their weapons at 209 suspects in the past five years” but none 
were convicted 
<http://www.thestate.com/news/local/crime/article15654974.html#storylink=cpy>. 
“We ruled all the shootings were justified – and we looked at dozens and 
dozens of them,” one former prosecutor told The State.

In this case, the video revealed 
<http://thinkprogress.org/justice/2015/04/07/3644139/sc-cop-charged-with-murder> 
a very different scenario. Scott, who was unarmed and fleeing, was shot 
in the back by Slager from a distance of at least 15 feet. After Scott 
was fatally shot, the video appears to capture Slager planting an object 
next to Scott.

-- 
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