What if There Had Been No Video of Walter Scott Being Shot in the Back?

Michael Slager, a police officer in North Charleston, SC, has been charged with murder for shooting Walter Scott. A graphic video of a North Charleston police officer shooting Walter Scott (a fleeing, unarmed black man) in the back may have been the only reason justice has, at least partially, been served.

We can only wonder what would have happened in this case if a bystander hadn’t taken video. The Huffington Post published an article with just such a premise. Basically, if all you were going on were local news reports and the story from Slager and the police department, it would seem like a justified shooting.

But it wasn’t. Not at all. And it is appalling to me that such an obvious case of abuse probably would have been swept under the rug without video. The police report says they offered CPR and first aid. The police report says Slager feared for his life. The police report says Scott was shot after overpowering Slager to get Slager’s Taser.

The video tells an entirely different story. And, at least in this case, the police department is not fighting the obvious truth. It makes me wonder what the real Michael Brown story is. It calls every report of justifiable lethal force into question.

And may we talk for a second about the overarching tyranny involved in this scenario? Walter Scott was pulled over for a broken tail light. A broken tail light. He ran from police because he didn’t want to be arrested for failing to pay child support. He had been arrested numerous times for not paying child support, and he didn’t want to be arrested again. Tell me, though. Is that a capital offense?

The truth of this situation may not have ever come to light without the video. And North Charleston has responded by requiring all of its police officers to wear body cameras. This seems like a good idea. But I hope it doesn’t keep individual citizens from recording the police. At this point, I just don’t trust the police. This is a shame. But at least we can have hope that the there is an equally random chance of justice for others.