Michael Slager, an officer with the North Charleston Police Department, has been charged with murder after a highly disturbing video surfaced that shows him shooting an unarmed man who was running away. He could face the death penalty for the alleged crime.
The shooting followed a traffic stop for the ubiquitous reason of having a brake light out on his Mercedes-Benz. We have previously discussed the problem of pretextual stops where traffic violations are used to conduct searches or question drivers. For a prior column, click here.
The video below shows Walter Scott, 50, breaking away from the officer. Something clearly falls to the ground and the officer fires eight shots at the man as he runs away.
Police reports include a statement from Slager that “Shots fired and the subject is down. He took my Taser.”
The video appears to contradict some of what Slager reported. He did report using the taser without effect. The video appears to show wires from the stun gun extending from Scott’s body as the two men struggle. However, Scott then breaks away and is shot roughly 20 feet away from the officer in a hail of bullets.
Under Tennessee v. Garner, a fleeing suspect can be shot under limited circumstances. Deadly force may be used only when “necessary to prevent the escape and the officer has probable cause to believe that the suspect poses a significant threat of death or serious bodily harm to the officer or others.” Justice White wrote:
A police officer may not seize an unarmed, nondangerous suspect by shooting him dead…however…Where the officer has probable cause to believe that the suspect poses a threat of serious physical harm, either to the officer or to others, it is not constitutionally unreasonable to prevent escape by using deadly force.
The question is likely to be whether the struggle and failed use of the taser created a sufficient basis for Slager to believe that he had probable cause that Scott was posed a serious threat to him or others. Slager could claim that, the fact that Scott allegedly attacked him and tried to take his taser, was enough to satisfy that Garner standard. This is the ultimate jury decision and the image of shooting a fleeing suspect in the back will obviously present a considerable challenge for the defense.
156 thoughts on “South Carolina Police Officer Charged With Murder After Posting Of Video Shooting Unarmed Man In Back”
“Taser Town’ And The Shots Heard ‘Round The World’ ”
“Police in the South Carolina town where an officer shot and killed an unarmed man were apparently Taser-crazy, according to several lawsuits against the local PD.
“Until the eight shots heard ’round the world, cops in North Charleston, South Carolina, were primarily distinguished by their zesty use of Tasers.
“As computed by a local newspaper in 2006, cops there used Tasers 201 times in an 18-month period, averaging once every 40 hours in one six-month stretch and disproportionately upon African Americans.”
“Death By Taser: So Much For ‘Non-Lethal’ Police Weapons
“The safe use of stun guns is drawing criticism as their misuse by police “appears to be on the rise.”
Paul, your ongoing illogicality makes me wonder whether it’s worth the time and energy required to engage you.
I’ll try to explain to you this last example of it as simply and clearly as I can:
1) The article I cited lists 46 countries (count them) that have outlawed the physical punishment of children;
2) The article also states that “In addition, in Italy in 1996, the Supreme Court in Rome declared all corporal punishment to be unlawful; this is not yet confirmed in legislation.”
3) In response, you wrote, “Rome, that would be the same place that convicted Amanda Knox of murder..”
4) Note that you illogically conflated Rome, a city, and what was referred to in the article as a court of law, Rome’s Supreme Court;
5) I further pointed out that in addition to declaring corporal punishment illegal, Rome’s Supreme Court, had also (incidentally)) reversed the conviction of Amanda Knox, thereby totally nullifying your illogical, baseless, and confused objection to the moral authority of the court regarding corporal punishment of children, i.e., that it had convicted Amanda Knox;
6) So, after you’d confused the city of Rome with the Supreme Court of Rome, you then laughably proceed to instruct me that Rome is not a country, and that if “Rome” had not convicted Knox, there would have been no conviction for the Supreme Court to reverse.
In view of your obvious confusion regarding the factual content and significance of the article I cited, it’s sadly ironic, to put it charitably, that you would arrogantly advise me to get my “facts right.”
Ken Rogers – if it is anything, it is the Supreme Court of Italy, but possibly the Supreme Court of Cassation. The Italian legal system is very strange.
There are 195 or 195 countries in the world, depending on whether you count Taiwan or not. 46 countries have outlawed corporal punishment. That comes to about 25%
@ Paul C. Schulte
“Rome, that would be the same place that convicted Amanda Knox of murder because she went to bed with more than one guy. Hmmm, yah, I want to follow their lead. They also have a thing about charging people with Satanism.”
You’re the only person I know who could mount such an incredibly fatuous response to the fact that 46 countries have outlawed corporal punishment.
Do you just blurt-type out all these inane comments without giving them any thought beforehand?
And not that it’s relevant to what Rome’s Supreme Court decided regarding corporal punishment, but it so happens that last month it reversed the conviction of Amanda Knox, so your comment is not only silly, but factually inaccurate.
Ken Rogers – 1) Rome is not a country 2) If I were not factually accurate the court would not have had anything to overturn. Need to get your facts right, buddy.
Some folks have a knack of not being able to understand what people and studies say, instead they translate it in their heads to mean something that is more acceptable to them personally. This makes for much miscommunication and and increases the likelihood that they live in an alternate reality of their own making,
Inga – that was a study that combined a lot of other studies, without getting to the raw data you are at the mercy of the writer. In this case, the Canadian government wants to get rid of corporal punishment so it is important that is what the study says.
You said, “You really do need to try to understand that not everyone is as imperviously in denial as you are regarding the evidence of the deleterious effects of physical violence against children”
Here, let me translate that for you!
There. You’re welcome!
“it is the purpose of the Canadian Government and all their minions to get rid of corporal punishment.”
And why would that be the case? Because they didn’t have anything else to do?
You really do need to try to understand that not everyone is as imperviously in denial as you are regarding the evidence of the deleterious effects of physical violence against children:
“Last updated: March 2015
“STATES WITH FULL ABOLITION
“In the following 46 states, children are protected by law from all corporal punishment (most recent first):
San Marino (2014)
Cabo Verde (2013)
TFYR Macedonia (2013)
South Sudan (2011)
Congo, Republic of (2010)
Republic of Moldova (2008)
Costa Rica (2008)
New Zealand (2007)
“In addition, in Italy in 1996, the Supreme Court in Rome declared all corporal punishment to be unlawful; this is not yet confirmed in legislation.
“In Nepal in 2005, the Supreme Court declared null and void the legal defence in the Child Act allowing parents, guardians and teachers to administer a ‘minor beating’; the Child Act is yet to be amended to confirm this.”
Ken Rogers – Rome, that would be the same place that convicted Amanda Knox of murder because she went to bed with more than one guy. Hmmm, yah, I want to follow their lead. They also have a thing about charging people with Satanism.
Life, Stress and Illness.
There is a normal level of stress and there is an abnormal level of stress in life. To deny that abnormal levels of stress are not physically and psychologically damaging is just ignorant. Ever hear of PTSD and related issues? Some people have a really skewed sense of reality.
No stress??? Hmmm. Timne for a reality check!
The real fun starts at 5:00 in. . .
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