This Was Murder

Charles C. W. Cooke:

There has been a murder in North Charleston, S.C. The victim was a 50-year-old black man named Walter Scott. The killer was a 33-year-old white police officer named Michael T. Slager. The story, as we know it, is harrowing. After Slager pulled Scott over for a broken taillight, the New York Times reports, Scott fled the scene on foot. In pursuit, Slager discharged his taser, which failed to work as intended. Undeterred, Scott continued to run away, which – for some inexplicable reason – provoked Slager into opening fire with his service pistol. Having been hit at least five times, Scott fell to the ground and died.

The initial witness reports appear to have been wholly incorrect. Calling in the incident, Officer Slager claimed brazenly that Scott had tried to take his Taser, and that he had feared for his life. Offering their account of events, local eyewitnesses suggested that the shots were fired in the course of an ongoing fight. But the video footage tells a rather different story. The available film, the Times confirms, “shows the officer firing eight times” while Scott flees, unarmed. More disturbingly, having finished shooting and holstered his weapon, Slager then appears to plant a Taser by Scott’s side.

Quite what justification could possibly be marshaled in defense of this behavior is unclear — to the point at which we might say confidently, “There is none.” Tennessee v. Garner, the Supreme Court case that governs how police officers must treat those who flee, holds that an agent of the state may use lethal force against an escaping suspect only in such cases as he reasonably concludes that the suspect poses “a significant threat of death or serious physical injury” to himself or to another. To watch the Times’ video is to understand that, at the time he was killed, Walter Scott posed no threat to anybody at all. When Slager raises his gun to shoot, Scott is not only a long, long way away from him, but he also seems to be unarmed. From his position, there is simply no way that he could have delivered a meaningful blow to Slager – or to anyone else, for that matter.

It has been suggested that there may have been a serious fight before the camera started to roll, and that this may have clouded Officer Slager’s judgment. Perhaps. Either way, though, this possibility seems to be something of a red herring. By the standard rules of engagement, Scott’s panicked flight legally concluded any ongoing altercation, his departure from the fight signaling to Officer Slager that he no longer wanted to brawl. Police officers have reasonable latitude. But they are not permitted to shoot later in response to a threat that passed earlier, nor to stretch the definition of “danger” to its breaking point. Frankly, the idea that Slager had somehow “learned” that Scott was inherently dangerous is weak. Scott was unarmed and he was running away. Who, exactly, was he intimidating?

Equally irrelevant are Scott’s various transgressions — committed both before and during his murder. Should he have been running from the officer in the first instance? No, obviously not. Should he have paid his child support and responded to his many court summonses? Indeed he should. Is it normal for motorists to foment imbroglios over tail-light violations. Hardly. But men are imperfect, and this one made a few poor choices. He did not deserve to be killed for them.

All in all, this seems to be the case that we have been hearing about for a long, long while now — that much-previewed-but-never-quite-forthcoming case in which the white cop unnecessarily guns down the unarmed black man who is trying in earnest to get away. This is that case in which the 80 percent white police force takes a life from the 47 percent black city; in which the small infraction leads to the fatal consequence; in which there are no wrinkles to complicate the complaint. This, in other words, is what the shootings of Michael Brown and Trayvon Martin were not.

I haven’t seen anyone claim this video shows a justified shooting. Slager and his attorney (as well as some unamed witnesses) claimed it was justified before the video was released, but I don’t know how they explained that all the bullet wounds were on Walter Scott’s posterior.

Since the video was released I have seen nothing but universal condemnation of the officer, but that hasn’t stopped a few yahoos on the left from claiming that the right supports the officer and defends the shooting.

Under California law Slager would probably be facing either second degree murder or involuntary manslaughter. I’m not aware of any evidence of premeditation or other facts that would make it first degree murder, nor are there any special circumstances present that would justify the death penalty. I’m guessing he would get 10-25 years depending on which charge he was convicted of.

I have no idea what the laws of South Carolina say, but I will be shocked if Slager doesn’t get substantial prison time. That video is damning.

About Myiq2xu - BA, JD, FJB

I was born and raised in a different country - America. I don't know what this place is.
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74 Responses to This Was Murder

  1. Myiq2xu says:

    If Slager gets life in prison I won’t lose any sleep over it.

  2. leslie says:

    I saw this video on Twitter yesterday before I realized what I was about to view. I was horrified by what I saw and unable to watch the video to the end. What I saw was more than enough to convince me the cop had killed someone in front of a person filming the incident. I hoped the cop had not seen the person filming this, lest he decide to take out that person as well.

    • leslie says:

      I still haven’t watched the entire film and will not do so. Aside from the brutal coldness of what happened, I have some thoughts about how death should be private and honored when possible and not be on display for gawkers or the merely curious.

  3. 49erDweet says:

    I sadly concur. I’m willing to listen one more time to the officer before I hang him, but this makes me angry. And disappointed. And sad.

  4. Myiq2xu says:

  5. Myiq2xu says:

    It looks like the guilty verdicts are rolling in on Jar Jar Tsarnaev.

    • leslie says:

      On all counts – with 17 carrying the death penalty.

    • Myiq2xu says:

      • Lulu says:

        A Fox panel was talking about his showing no remorse during the trial. Sociopaths usually don’t. Blaming his dead stupid creep brother didn’t help either. I’m more and more convinced that sociopaths (anti-social personality disorder) are drawn to jihad terrorism like flies to shit. Jihad is led by sociopaths, their doctrine was written by sociopaths, their actions and behaviors are sociopathic, and only those who have a big streak of it are drawn to it with the promise to be able to exercise their kinks or use it as an excuse. The bullshit religious and political stuff is a fairly stupid rationalization for their sick psychology and frequently criminal backgrounds (a very large number of them are convicted thieves and frauds). Terrorism is anti-social behavior before they found a twentieth century made up name for it and the resulting excuses. Just call them crazy ass murders and forget the bullshit jihad terrorism label/excuse.

        • 49erDweet says:

          The tell on that, Lulu, is that jihadists as a rule aren’t devout Muslims, just going thru the motions.

          • Lulu says:

            They assume what they think is the identity of devout Muslims. They remind me of fake money grubbing preachers and their helpers. It is playing a part like a lot of the Mafia assholes took on various identities (touch but a gent, family man who loves his kids, blah, blah) but dig past the outer pretense and they are just violent, thieving murders who want what they want and don’t care who they hurt. A few weeks ago I read “” and it was one of the clearest descriptions of a manipulative, violent, criminal thug irregardless of jihad and all that crap. And those girls who go over to be “brides”, they find it thrilling just like molls. They are all sickos and their pretenses and excuses should be called out or ignored.

          • Constance says:

            I would really like an update on the girls who crossed over to be jihad brides. Have their families heard from them at all?

          • 49erDweet says:

            I know. That is soooo strange. I wonder that, too.

  6. SHV says:

    I haven’t been following the trial but count 1 “Conspiracy…weapon of mass destruction” sounds like Feds wanted to score political points. How a pressure cooker bomb counts as a weapon of mass destruction eludes me. Seems as if multiple counts of felony murder should be enough.

  7. Myiq2xu says:

    Rather than an immediate death penalty they should do it one piece at a time. Every year on the anniversary of the bombing they can amputate another limb (without anesthesia). His organs are probably in good shape, so they could find some needy recipients and start parting him out.

    • Lulu says:

      That is why I am starting to favor a firing squad. No damage to organs to donate.

    • elliesmom says:

      I wanted him found guilty. Whether they sentence him to death or life without parole doesn’t matter to me. At his young age life without parole is probably worse. Elliesdad still favors a large deep fat fryer on Boston Common. My son wants him blown up by bomb and left without legs while he serves his life in prison. I’m just glad the jury didn’t buy the “he was led astray by his evil older brother” line. This young man lived in a nice family neighborhood, went to a fine extremely welcoming high school, and was attending a good quality state university. He had no legitimate argument with the inhabitants of Boston and its marathon visitors. And neither did his older brother. Whatever the jury decides to do to him is fine with me as long as he never gets out.

  8. Myiq2xu says:

    • Lulu says:

      It is slightly befuddling that the magazine which is known for glorified and glamorized drugs, sex and rock and roll when it involved drugged and drunk music folks violating all kinds of laws went all horrified and moralistic when they had a bizarre (false) story about a fraternity and a tacky non-hip public southern university. This seemingly double standard will also be brought up at trial.

  9. Dora says:

    This is not what we need! Go home Sharpton!

    Here We Go… Al Sharpton Calls for Nationalizing Police Force After South Carolina Police Shooting

    This was always the intended goal – to nationalize the US police force.

    • DeniseVB says:

      LOL, the bottom line……”Sharpton has been wrong about every single major case he has rallied behind, but that has never stopped him.”

  10. DeniseVB says:

    What cop in his right mind pulls someone over for a broken tail light planning on killing him ? Truly frightening. Why did the kid run? Stupid of him too. Glad his in jail with no bail right now, that should keep the mobs away …. or will it ?

    I couldn’t bring myself to reading or linking to it, but Charles Blow has an OpEd headline up saying this happens all the time and MUST STOP! (Except if you’re a black cop who kills a white kid I’m sure).

  11. Myiq2xu says:

    Good answer!:

  12. votermom says:

    • Lulu says:

      That will help morale. We already knew Bronco didn’t give a crap about foreign service workers or contractors.

  13. TheRealKim says:

    I live in Charleston and am really upset over this. When it came out over the weekend, it was reported that it was a justified incident, blah, blah, blah. I was worried there was more to it and then the video surfaced. The videographer has chosen to remain anonymous and the officer was fired today. His attorney resigned when the video surfaced and the officer appeared without representation in the first hearing. Charleston has been voted #1 city in US for years and this year #2 in world. Believe me, they don’t want that image tarnished. This will be dealt with quickly and quietly, not for justice, but for our #1 industry – tourism.

  14. mothy67 says:

    Speaking for myself alone I say I do not care about any social injustices. I feel my compassion has been ridden to depletion. I feel assaulted. What took place was wrong but my caring bit ran dry. I do not care anymore. Some stooge is suing the girls soccor teams because he cannot coach. He cannot get an act 1 clearance because he has a record. Duh I am not comfortable with a convict coaching a kid. Seems cut and dry but n o somehow it is racist. 395 dollars per season to those that can pay freevto any kid in the borough. Had been 195 a kid with winning 2 dollar lottery tickets tried to pay himselt. Now there is 395 summer program no one has to pay covers all athletics all park services. I pay 23/month. I started it people pay or the don’t but no kid in the district has to worry about a glove or a bat. Somehow a guy that does not live in the borough who is six months behind on child support screams racism because he has a criminal record and cannot be a coach. Y ou have to be a resident to be a coach. He claims his daughter makes him a resident. . He will be in prison again before the next court date but it is so annoying responding. I was named in the coach lawsuit. All I did was remove the fee. I had nothing to do with the fee but my name is on the paper that requires applicant to assume cost of background check. Standard for. Anyhow he that does not live her claims 9.95 background check is burden and that prohibition against criminals is racist. HE has never lived here. I deal with this shit and it makes me say I just do not care.

  15. Myiq2xu says:

  16. Myiq2xu says:

  17. Myiq2xu says:

  18. Myiq2xu says:

    That’s just the traditional “titty twister” greeting that pro golfers give each other before a tournament.

  19. Myiq2xu says:

  20. mothy67 says:

    I just found a new level of hell on facebook. Iam racist because I said Glenn from the Walking Dead and the guy who hosts talking Dead are the hottest mrn on tv. WHAT THE FUCK. Had to spell it out in caps. I said I thought that girl on Vampire show was drop dead sexy. I do not find black men sexy. Iknow Tyrese Gibdon and can say you are attractive.That guy on Criminal Minds is stunning. I am just not attracted. How does my sayinvg not into black guys make me a racist.

  21. Dora says:

    Wow! Now we know how the Russians were able to hack the WH computers. 😦

    Hillary Clinton’s Private Server A Foreign Spy Magnet

    Hillary Clinton’s private email server was a spy magnet for the Russian, Chinese, Iranian and other intelligence services, say current and former intelligence officials.

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