In the United States, Black men and women have been under siege due to targeting by authorities: White police officers have abused their power by repeatedly gunning down Black Americans — often with little cause. Case in point, this week in South Carolina, White officer Michael T. Slager was charged with murder for shooting Walter Scott in the back.
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Last Saturday (April 4th) in the city of North Charleston, 33-year-old Slager reportedly stopped Scott’s Mercedes-Benz because of a broken taillight, according to reports. Scott reportedly ran off and Slager chased him in to a field. Slager claims that he then fired his taser stun gun, but it didn’t slow down Scott. After an alleged struggle, Slager called in on his police radio, telling his superiors that he feared for his life and that Scott fought him and took his stun gun weapon.
A Black bystander, Feidin Santana, though, videotaped the entire incident and the clip was given to the New York Times by Scott’s family lawyer.
The video dismantles Slager’s account that Scott was an aggressor and was the catalyst in bringing about the shooting. In the video, Slager is clearly seen firing his weapon eight times at Scott’s back and then planting evidence near Scott’s body after he killed him.
Consequently, government authorities, such as the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and the Justice Department, are currently opening a series of civil rights investigations to see if Scott’s rights were indeed violated. In addition, South Carolina’s Law Enforcement Division is also looking in to the murder.
Watch unedited video of Walter Scott’s shooting here:
Scott did have an arrest record; however, much of Scott’s offenses had to do with failing to pay child support and missing court dates, according to the accounts from local news outlets. In 1987, though, Scott was arrested for assault and battery, and in 1991, he was convicted of possessing a blunt weapon.
Scott’s brother said he believes his sibling fled because of owed child support. Scott, a Father of four, was said to be engaged and employed, according to lawyer Chris Stewart.
The coroner told the family’s attorney that Scott was hit with five of the eight shots fired. Three bullets landed in his back, one bullet landed in his upper buttocks, and another in the ear. The video showed that the officers didn’t rush to provide CPR or medical aid to the fallen Scott.
The explosive nature of the shooting has occurred in the wake of other similar police shooting U.S.-based murder cases involving Black males, such as teenager Michael “Mike” Brown in Ferguson, Mo., and the choking death of Staten Island Father and husband Eric Garner both last summer.
Racial tensions have flared by way of the deaths, igniting a national debate on how policing is handled in communities of color in America.
For decades in the United States, shooting deaths of Black men at the hands of police has been an ongoing phenomenon.
North Charleston is the third-largest city in the state of South Carolina and is 47 percent African-American; yet, the police force is 80 percent White, according to a Justice Department report.
The shooting has placed the town on the national radar, once again underscoring the tragic reality of the disparity of how Blacks are treated by police in America.