Murder. That's what it is.


Those of us who pay attention to the criminal-justice/police-militarization blogosphere all just... gasped... at this:

Full story can be found here. But, long story short, a North Charleston, SC, police officer named Michael Slager pulled over Walter Scott in a traffic stop for a busted tail-light. The man ran, and as the video shows, at some point during the subsequent confrontation, Mr. Scott again ran only to have eight shots fired at him as he fled, ultimately resulting in his death. The officer radioed in the shots fired and that the deceased had tried to take his taser - only to have the video show the officer subsequently returning to where he was standing after killing Mr. Scott, retrieving his taser from the ground, walking the 25 to 30 feet to the his corpse, and dropping the taser near his body.

The number of details that are shockingly offensive -- even to a seasoned critic of police escalation-of-violence strategies, war mentalities, and the double-standard of immunity they enjoy -- are staggering.

First, the planting of the taser happens after the officer's partner has walked up to the scene and is standing right next to the Mr. Scott's body. The officer framed the man he shot in plain sight of another police officer and with full confidence that having a witness to his crime would be of no consequence.

Second, the fact that the officer radioed in his defense immediately after murdering Mr. Scott and then subsequently and calmly carried out the manipulation of evidence that would reinforce his radio message shows a near psychopathic lack of sympathy, guilt, or concern about the fact he shot an unarmed man, fleeing arrest for at most a traffic violation (except a broken taillight is not illegal in South Carolina).

Third, the officer fired EIGHT SHOTS.... at a target moving in a straight line, 20 feet away. A firearms instructor I took a lesson from put a 9mm in my hands, put a stationary target 40 feet away, and gave me the green light to fire. I missed, over the target's right shoulder. The instructor looked at me and said, "No big deal. It's just a target. However in the real world, you might have just shot a kid." Bullets don't always go where you intend for them to go, and hell, they don't always even stay where you put them. A police officer firing eight shots and missing with most of them, in a residential area, is frighteningly reckless use of force. I'm relieved nobody was actually hit by any of those stray shots.

You have no idea how grateful I am that this incident is finally so egregious that the offending officer is being charged (versus not) and being charged with murder (instead of manslaughter). I'd rest much easier if the Slager's partner were indicted for accessory after the fact.

Walter Scott was a human being. He was running from the officer. He was no threat. That he was running is absolutely no justification for shooting him. As best put by the legal minds at Popehat:

I had intended to write about a non-political topic tonight. But this is just so awful, it had to be shared.

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