Rest in Peace, Walter L. Scott

Walter L Scott

At about 9:30 pm on Saturday North Charleston police officer Michael T. Slager shot and killed an unarmed African American Walter L. Scott (pictured above) while he was running away.

The North Charleston police statement’s version of the events was that Slager pulled Scott over for a broken tail light. Scott ran, so Slager used his Taser to try and stop. That didn’t work and a scuffle ensued, during which Scott grabbed the Taser and tried to use it on the officer, who was forced to resort to his service weapon. He shot Scott dead. That was the official original police report.

It’s clear from the police statement that something isn’t true. First Scott tries to run away. Then Slager Tasers him. The statement indicated that that didn’t work, which would mean that Scott was still running away so how could a scuffle ensue?

But the inconsistency didn’t bother the North Charleston PD; nor was anybody particularly interested in the fact that Slager had, by his own later admission, had quite a few beers before coming on shift but he wasn’t tested until 5 hours later. So that’s where the story would have ended. Another unarmed man killed in cold blood by a police officer. This time for a broken tail light.

Except that the truth was captured on video by a bystander, who gave it to Scott’s family. They brought it to the New York Times. The footage shows an unarmed Scott running for his life from Slager, who fires repeatedly at Scott’s back, hitting him 7 times until he drops dead. The autopsy report showed that the last three killed him. Another officer at the scene doesn’t try to resuscitate Scott, he simply turns his body over and examines something. At that point he’s handcuffed and clearly dead. I guess the handcuffs were to ‘prove’ that Slager hadn’t killed him.

Slager appears to plant something next to Scott’s dead body then stands casually over him, dusting his hands, showing no remorse at all for the fact that he just took his life—for no reason at all other than because he could—and tried to cover up his crime.

His version of the events, accepted originally by the North Charleston Police Department, is a lie from start to finish. And for once, justice might be served. Slager has been fired and charged with murder. The thin blue line, which is increasingly more like a very thick blue fortress wall, can’t withstand the power of a bystander with a smart phone. Times are a-changing.

Walter Scott’s brother Anthony issued a public statement saying that he and his family don’t believe all police officers are bad; just that some are. His dignity was awe-inspiring as he called for prayer.

Rest in peace, Walter L. Scott.