*DISCLAIMER: This post does not mean ALL cops. It means SOME cops. But there is no denying that SOME cops have done what I am about to discuss.
Like many other Americans, the series of widely publicized shootings of unarmed black men has made my blood boil. I don’t believe that these eerily similar shootings have necessarily increased over time, but I think that the advancement of technology has allowed us to document and display the violence to wider audiences.
Keeping this in mind, the events of these horrific shootings involving white cops gunning down unarmed black men proves that not only does blatant racism still exist, but it’s alive and well in many police forces.
The most recent event is the shooting of unarmed black man Walter Scott, aged 50.
Police officer Michael Thomas Slager shot at Scott eight times as Scott was running away from him. Three of Slager’s bullets hit Scott in the back, and after the eight shots were fired, Scott dropped to the ground, and died.
How do we know this? Because a witness caught it on video. The video not only captures Slager shooting Scott in the back as Scott was running away, but it also shows Slager possibly planting evidence by dropping his Taser near Scott’s body. The footage shows that when Slager fired the shots, Scott was far enough away not to be a violent threat to the police officer.
This video is crucial to the case because it led to the arrest of Slager. His original police report suspiciously differs dramatically from the actual events captured on the video. Slager claimed that there was a struggle over his Taser and that there was a struggle before the shots were fired.
Clearly, the video evidence shows otherwise.
This case is different because the cop in question has been arrested and will be tried for first-degree murder.
It’s about time we see this outcome after a cop kills an unarmed black man.
Even though Eric Garner’s death was also captured on video, there was no indictment against Daniel Pantaleo, the police officer who choked and killed Eric Garner, despite the fact that chokeholds are banned by the New York Police Department. Many were outraged by the outcome of this case, myself included.
With the case against Slager, the Supreme Court’s ruling proves that the officer’s actions were illegal. According to the Supreme Court, using deadly force is only legal if “the suspect threatens the officer with a weapon or there is probable cause to believe that he has committed a crime involving the infliction or threatened infliction of serious physical harm.”
Was Scott armed? No. Were the crimes he was suspected of crimes that involved violence or physical harm? No. In the moments before Slager opened fire, was Scott threatening him or anyone else? No.
The evidence against Slager is damaging, and it seems unlikely that he will be found innocent. However, with the history of these cases, police officers somehow manage to walk away free after murdering unarmed black men with not so much as a slap on the wrist.
Technology is crucial in keeping police officers with this track record in line, but it’s depressing to me that even with video evidence, police officers somehow manage to avoid prison time or even an indictment at all. Police officers are in positions of power, and officers accused of crimes can use this power to their advantage. Jury members may have the mentality that most cops are truly abiding by the law.
Yes, there are “good cops” and “bad cops.” But this fact shouldn’t mean that there is no justice for the men who were killed by those “bad cops.” Police officers who disobey the law should be held accountable, just like every other citizen of the United States.
Video cameras should be used more widely among police departments across the nation, and investigators are beginning to crack down on the corruption among police departments across the nation. Hopefully, this means justice. Hopefully, this means that police officers will be held accountable. Going forward, America will hopefully become more united.