Walter Scott is dead. Michael Thomas Slager sits in a South Carolina jail on murder charges. Those are the only two undisputed facts of an April 4th traffic stop in an Advance Auto Parts parking lot that escalated into the use of deadly force. Everything in between is murky. The (South Carolina) State Law Enforcement Division (SLED) is investigating the incident that they described as a traffic stop gone wrong.
My take is that Officer Slager was involved in a clean shoot and is being hung out to dry by the city of North Charleston because they are afraid of becoming Ferguson Part II. I doubt this will get past the Grand Jury. And if by some horrendous miscarriage of justice it goes to trial, Officer Slager will be rightly acquitted.
I have already taken an enormous amount of opprobrium from those around me for daring to be such a Fascist sympathizer. You would think I said, “That nigger deserved to be shot for running.” The only racism involved in this whole situation is the racism of Officer Slager’s detractors and that of the North Charleston city leaders because they are afraid of black people in their city rioting…again; like in 1876, or 1919, or what could be considered the biggest riot in history by firing on Fort Sumter to kick off the War of Northern Aggression.
I’ve watched the shooting video several times, but purposely stopped after the first view to formulate an opinion. This was an admittedly poor attempt to place myself in Officer Slager’s position as the shooting unfolded. A quickly unfolding, high-stress, thirty second long situation will be picked apart for weeks and months (and sometimes, years). The thought process Officer Slager went through and the decisions he made literally in the blink of an eye while winded, suffering from tunnel vision, and afraid for his life are now fodder for watercooler postulating by people who have never had to decide whether or not to pull the trigger. Even those who have only possess a narrow picture of what occurred.
I keep hearing mention of this false report Officer Slager filed that was contradicted by the shooting video, but I’ll be damned if I can find it.
The North Charleston Police Department isn’t releasing the report. Neither is SLED. Nor is the Prosecuting Attorney. There is a very good reason for not releasing Officer Slager’s report. This is an on-going investigation. The integrity of the evidence has to be preserved. The second Officer Slager’s report is released, any witness statements obtained after that will be influenced even more than they already have been by the media coverage.
All the usual race hustling suspects have rallied around this case, and the North Charleston Mayor Keith Summey and Police Chief Eddie Driggers gave a press conference where both were moved to crocodile tears at the mere suggestion of one of their own breaking bad. The duo did everything short of saying, “Please, black people. Don’t riot. You can lynch him after we give him a fair trial.” They couldn’t throw this poor bastard under the (unsegregated, mind you) city bus fast enough. The Mayor and Police Chief kissed more ass in a ten minute press conference than they had in order to get their respective jobs in the first place.
My advice to every Police Officer in North Charleston is to turn in your badge today because it is clear that doing your job the way you were taught will subject you to becoming a political prisoner and sacrificial lamb to the howling mob.
This entire persecution began with release of a video showing the six seconds that anybody seems to really care about; Officer Slager shooting Walter Scott as he was running away. That is all it really shows. The patrol car dash-cam footage shows from the beginning of the stop until Walter Scott got out of the car and ran. There is no footage of anything that transpired between those two clips. It would have been really nice had Feidin Santana the presence of mind to begin recording while Officer Slager and Walter Scott were fighting for control of Officer Slager’s TASER, but he had no interest in adding to prosecutorial evidence against anyone besides the occupying army that repressed him for his entire life.
Oddly enough, we have Feidin Santana’s statement to investigators, and the entire world through his talking to the media, that Walter Scott and Officer Slager were fighting for control of the TASER. Short of a completely preposterous scenario where Officer Slager TASERed Walter Scott and then handed over the control unit in order to manufacture a scenario where he would be justified to use deadly force, how do the armchair investigators of the world (the vast majority of whom have never actually written a police report, conducted a criminal investigation, arrested anyone, or had to testify in a criminal case) think this went down?
I saw a righteous shoot that should have been cleared in a couple of weeks of paid administrative leave and an insurance settlement to the surviving family.
Well, I did see one other thing. I saw Walter Scott literally within inches of Officer Slager at the very beginning of those six seconds. That proximity to each other is entirely consistent with what has been released about Officer Slager’s version of
events and is corroborated by Feidin Santana. (Yeah, me and my fancy evidentiary words.) I also saw what looked like a pair of leads from a TASER running between Walter Scott and Officer Slager. If you don’t believe I know a pair of TASER leads when I see them, fine…I saw a loosely coiled bundle of metallic wires visually consistent with deployment of a conducted electrical weapon. Feel better?
As an aside, TASERs are not magic. They’re pretty damn good, but they are not the fight stoppers the Youtube videos portray. A lot of things can go wrong in the real world that make them less than always effective. I can assure you that the TASER was taken into evidence along with everything else and will be examined six ways from Tuesday to determine how many times it was set off, how rapidly, and for how long each time. As a further aside, forensic examination of the TASER’s memory card was likely a contributing factor to Officer Slager being cleared in an excessive force complaint file by Mario Givens from 2013. Mysteriously, he has delayed filing a civil lawsuit over the matter. Despite being TASERed “for no good reason,” Mario Givens’ attorney informed the media that his client plans to file a lawsuit. Exactly what has he been waiting for?
“My baby never hurt nobody.” “I’ve only had two drinks.” “There I was minding my own business.” “These aren’t my pants, Officer.” “You’re doing this because you’re a racist.” “Take off the badge, and we’ll settle this like men.”
Try telling me a lie I haven’t heard before.
That mysterious dark object Officer Slager picked up and nefariously dropped next to Walter Scott? Considering Officer Slager picked it up from where it landed and tucked the object into his duty belt thirty seconds later (it is clearly on the video), my guess would be that it was the TASER. Here is where I am confused. If Officer Slager moved the TASER closer to Walter Scott in an attempt to incriminate the victim of a murder, why did he pick it up and put it back onto his duty belt? The transportation, placing on the ground, and retrieval were all in the presence of the second officer who arrived within a minute of Walter Scott hitting the deck. That would be pretty sloppy use of an improvised throw-down.
As close as those two were standing when the TASER fell to the ground, I will bet that neither saw it happen. Perceptual distortion likely gave both of them tunnel vision that inhibited their ability to make effective use of peripheral vision. It’s also the reason that a vehicle rollover feels like it lasts several minutes for the occupants when it only took two or three seconds, and participants in a gunfight often report being able to see the bullets exiting the muzzle, traveling through the air, or entering the body of their target. Stress does some weird things to a person’s perception. That’s why investigators examining a shooting try to place themselves in the shoes of the shooter.
The phrase “He grabbed my TASER” that Officer Slager broadcast over his radio and has become the media’s irrefutable proof of a retribution killing is an intentional misunderstand of words. “Grab” can imply a quick taking of control and release of an object or to abscond with on object entirely. I put forth that Officer Slager was operating under the belief that Walter Scott had the TASER in his possession and was escaping with it. That’s a mighty dangerous situation, especially when you consider the effective range of the TASER X26 issued to the North Charleston Police Department is 35 feet. This entire run-and-gun episode occurred in less than 20 feet according to every media report I have seen.
Ask a cop what the stand-off distance is when he has to pull his pistol. He will tell you that even though it’s not always possible to maintain, the standard he was taught was seven yards. That’s 21 feet, and if you’ve ever had to draw down on someone who is holding a deadly weapon at that distance, you know it’s entirely too close for comfort. That distance can be traversed before you have time react by nearly anyone who isn’t bound to a wheelchair.
While I’m throwing all sorts of cop jargon at you, let me try another one; the Fleeing Felon Rule. It stems from the 1985 Supreme Court case Tennessee vs Garner, and despite the law that created the case being ruled unconstitutional, actually gave law enforcement guidance on how to do their jobs. That’s pretty much how case law works.
If you’re having trouble sleeping one night, you can read the entire legal brief yourself. Or you can trust my nuts-and-bolts version:
“The Tennessee statute is unconstitutional insofar as it authorizes the use of deadly force against, as in this case, an apparently unarmed, nondangerous fleeing suspect; such force may not be used unless necessary to prevent the escape and the officer has probable cause to believe that the suspect poses a significant threat of death or serious physical injury to the officer or others.” Pp. 7-22
That second part is what is important.
Any cop will tell you that he has seen all sorts of equipment fall out of the grasp, pocket, and duty belt of other officers when involved in even the most minor of physical confrontations. Any that are willing to be honest, will admit to it happening to them. Snaps come undone, gravity takes over, and gear gets jostled out of place. Usually a buddy returns it to you when the excitement is over, and you feel like a dumbass. It happens.
The Fleeing Felon Rule says nothing about giving warning before opening fire. It says nothing about shot placement. It says nothing about alternate means of capture. The basic idea is that the person running away is still a threat to someone’s life.
Police Officers have accidentally killed people with TASERs. They have been used in other instances outside of American law enforcement to torture and kill people. If you just chased down and wrestled with a guy over control of your TASER, exactly what do think his intent was in trying to take it away from you? These things are still fully capable of being used by pressing them against someone after the barbs are deployed.
Here’s an experiment. Find yourself a TASER. Even one of the civilian models will do. Now, press it against your temple and activate it. Tell me if that doesn’t fuck you up severely. That’s what Officer Slager thought was going to happen to him.
This isn’t the first time some criminal thought it was OK to take a piece of equipment off the person of a police officer. That is usually a bad idea because the very well-founded assumption by the cop will be that you are trying to kill him. Officer Slager, having just conducted a foot chase and grappling match over the tool immediately below his pistol on the force continuum, was on demonstrably solid legal ground in employing lethal force against Walter Scott. Well, he would have been on solid legal ground had it not been for the Ferguson riots, racists community members who love government control as long as it is not applied to them by someone of a different color, and a civic leadership running scared at the thought of getting cross-ways of the community they police.
Michael Slager is a political scapegoat because the civic leadership in North Charleston, the state of South Carolina, and much of the rest of the country is too afraid to put their foot down and tell the criminal element in the community they police that the best way to avoid this outcome is to stop committing criminal acts.
The Grand Jury won’t meet until May, and until then, Officer Slager sits in jail as a political prisoner to political correctness. The Grand Jury will likely bind him over for trial, as probable cause isn’t very much in the grand scheme of burden of proof. It will take a trial to exonerate Michael Slager. The Mayor and Police Chief will hide under the umbrella of “I would have convicted him, but I wasn’t allowed to have a say because I wasn’t on the jury.” Then the good, law abiding citizens of North Charleston will tear that town to shreds over the righteous anger they feel because one guy tried to do his job the way he was trained to do it.