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Walter Scott Shooting

posted Apr 13, 2015, 5:32 AM by Unknown user

Morgan Drake

On April 7, 2015, Michael Slager, a white South Carolina police officer, was charged with murder after a video surfaced of him shooting Walter Scott, a supposedly unarmed black man multiple times in the back.

Slager said he feared for his life because Scott had taken his taser in a fight after a traffic stop for a broken taillight. However, the video clearly shows Scott running away from Slager without anything in his hands, followed by eight shots fired at Scott’s back. Slager then proceeded to yell at and handcuff Scott’s dead body, then drop something by him (said to be the taser Scott “stole” fromImage result for walter scott shooting him).

With previous police shootings occurring in Ferguson, Cleveland, and New York, this only made previously calmed issues heat up again. These deaths, along with Walter Scott’s have sparked a national debate on whether police are too quick to use force, particularly on black men. Despite this, Scott’s family have called for peace, asking that “justice run its course.”

The FBI has opened a civil rights investigation into the incident and Scott’s family said they will be filing a civil lawsuit against the police. Slager has not commented on the incident since his arrest, but before the video surfaced, he said he fired because he feared for his life when he and Scott fought over his taser.

So is Slager innocent or guilty? When can police legitimately shoot at a convict? Police are only allowed to shoot if:

  1. they are protecting their life or the life of someone else;

  2. they are preventing a suspect from escaping when there is a probable cause that the suspect “poses a significant threat of death or serious physical injury to the officer or others.”

While the immediate response would be that the officer is guilty, unfortunately there is more to the case than just this video evidence. For both circumstances, it doesn’t matter whether there is an actual threat when deadly force is used. All that matters is the officer’s “objectively reasonable” belief that in that moment, there was a threat.Image result for walter scott shooting

Therefore, what this case ultimately comes down to is whether or not Slager had a good reason to believe 50 year old Scott posed a threat to him or others when he fired the eight shots. Although some argue that this gives law enforcement a license to kill, police officers say that it is essential to their safety. Slager has not yet been convicted  for this incident, as evidence is still being reviewed, and a verdict must be reached.