Justice grinds slow, but it does grind: Guilty plea for shooting of Walter Scott in North Charleston.

Image courtesy of Adobe Stock.

In April 2015, an officer with the North Charleston, S.C. police department shot a man in the back as the citizen slowly ran away from the officer after an altercation.

In December 2016 the officer achieved a hung verdict in his murder trial after claiming he feared for his life after a struggle for his taser. He was facing a retrial at state level.

On May 3, 2017, the officer plead guilty to the federal crime of violating the man’s civil rights. He will be sentenced later.

Justice takes time, sometimes.

After you watch the video below and read my description of the incident, you will appreciate two questions that come to mind. For background, consider I am a middle-class, middle-age, white male, who runs my own business.

Here are the two distressing questions I’ve been pondering for the past two years:

  • How often did this type of incident take place in the past, when nobody had a video recorder in their pocket?
  • How often does this type of incident take place today?

A Wall Street Journal article provides background on the plea and the case:  Former S.C. Policeman Pleads Guilty in Shooting of Walter Scott. The officer was fired immediately after the incident. The city apologized and reached a $6.5M settlement with the family.

If you have the stomach for it, feel free to watch the following video:

Please know in advance it is upsetting.

 

 

My observations:

At the 0:18 mark, Mr. Scott turns to run away from the officer. The officer immediately draws his weapon, steps his left foot forward into standard shooting positing, and raises his weapon in a two-hand aim.

Why do I mention that? Several reasons. The immediate threat to the officer’s safety has evaporated. Yet he draws his weapon and prepares to fire.  I do not understand why there is any justification for the shooting at that point.

But it gets worse.

The officer takes two steps forward, which puts him in his preferred shooting position with a solid stand, left foot in front of right foot. He has a solid, two-hand grip. Left arm bent slightly which means his torso is turned to the right slightly, which also means his right arm is straight. All that means he is in classic position for aimed fire; his body is providing a firm foundation for accurate, sustained shooting.

There are seven quick shots, with a momentary pause, and then an eighth shot. The shots are fast, but there is enough of a pause between each shot to tell me that each shot was aimed. Meaning? Each of these were intentional shots, not a panicked rapid fire that would be expected in a hands-on brawl.

Eight intentional, aimed shots. After the threat dissipated.

Watch the video again, noticing the speed at which Mr. Scott ran. Meaning no disrespect at all for Mr. Scott, you can see his get-away-from-the-cops run is in the range of a casual trot. A half-fit police officer could have caught him in moments. It was daylight, in a wide, park-like area where there wouldn’t be much chance of hiding or escaping.

After Mr. Scott is down, the officer then walks over to Mr. Scott and handcuffs him.

At 0:59 of the video, the officer walks back to the location of the altercation, where the shots were fired from.

Why?

At 1:09 the officer picks up something from the ground.

At 1:33 the officer drops something on the ground, to the side of Mr. Scott’s right leg. Basically where something may have fallen after getting shot.

The video has narrative overlays included and repeats those few seconds of the drop. At 1:37 there is a freeze frame clearly shows something falling from the officer’s hand.

I’m curious if anyone can provide any explanation for that falling item other than the officer planted evidence. Any suggestions?

The officer’s story is that the two scuffled over the officer’s taser. Planting that item (any doubt it was the taser?) next to Mr. Scott would  provide physical evidence why the officer feared for his life.

You see, I was fearful that if pursued, Mr. Scott would have turned and fired the taser, disabling me, and leaving me vulnerable to attack. See? I feared for my life.

So, the shooting was justified, right? That is what we all would have believed.

That story would have worked, except for the person recording the incident.

My thoughts

So what are we left with? A video showing a police officer intentionally and carefully shooting a running man in the back who presented zero threat to the officer, which means the shooting was completely unjustified, and the officer then intentionally planting incriminating evidence to support a subsequent claim of threat to the officer’s safety.

His guilty plea to a federal crime supports my interpretation.

Were it not for the video, who on planet earth would have ever believed Mr. Scott?

Now go back to the questions I mentioned at the start of this post.

  • How often did this type of incident take place in the past, when nobody had a video recorder in their pocket?
  • How often does this type of incident take place today?

I have this horribly sick feeling in my stomach that incidents just like this probably happened a lot of times in the past. Fairly common even.

How often is it happening today? I have an even worse ache in my heart that this is not the only such incident in the last few years.

Your thoughts?

Any one have comments? Did I miss something?

All comments are moderated. I will post all comments which are civil. Keep in mind I am the sole authority for determining what is civil.

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