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Ash writes: "Feidin Santana's smartphone video of North Charleston, South Carolina, police officer Michael Slager shooting Walter Scott multiple times in the back, while deeply disturbing and productive of outrage, is also an abject illustration of exactly how police get away with murder every day in America."

 (image: NCPD/RSN)
(image: NCPD/RSN)

What We Learned From Michael Slager

By Marc Ash, Reader Supported News

13 April 15


eidin Santana’s smartphone video of North Charleston, South Carolina, police officer Michael Slager shooting Walter Scott multiple times in the back, while deeply disturbing and productive of outrage, is also an abject illustration of exactly how police get away with murder every day in America.

Slager takes us through a step-by-step demonstration of how to kill a terrified man – under color of law – and get away with it. And there should be no doubt that absent Santana’s video, Slager would have succeeded.

A warrant was issued for Slager’s arrest – after the video went public – but not by his own department, the North Charleston Police Department. Right up until the moment the video went public, the NCPD was passing off Slager’s version of events as the official story to the news media. The warrant and arrest were coordinated by the state police, the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division (SLED).

In fact, a statement by SLED Chief Mark Keel was blunt about suspicions held by state investigators even at the original crime scene:

There were inconsistencies including what appeared to be multiple gunshot wounds in Mr. Scott's back. We believed early on that there was something not right about what happened in that encounter.

Mark Keel might want to consider applying for the vacant job of U.S. Attorney General, because this kind of thing is happening all across the country. What separates the killing of Walter Scott from the killings of countless unarmed men and women at the hands of American police every year? Video, and an honest state police agency. Both quite rare.

But it’s Slager’s cool, businesslike demeanor as he retrieves the stun gun, walks calmly over to the body of the man he has just shot multiple times in the back, throws the stun gun down beside him … and then calls it in on his radio. There’s a playbook, and Slager is well versed in the steps.

What was it Darren Wilson said? He feared for his life, the suspect grabbed for my gun, he charged at me. The only thing that is lacking in this well traveled script is original material.

The time has come for a major national push for body cameras – on all police personnel. With routine public access to the recordings. This will have many beneficial effects in terms of safety for suspects, and police officers. It will also provide an opportunity for the public to understand how police encounters take place.

A debate on policing tactics in the U.S. is long overdue, and people are dying every day for the lack of it. Is the concept of immediate interdiction really necessary in so many cases? Did Michael Slager really need to chase Walter Scott at all? Why? Where was Walter Scott going that the NCPD could not find him?

Is it really necessary for American police to rely so heavily on firearms? Would subjects and police officers be safer if the police officers were less aggressive and more observant, as they are in every other country on earth?

Is the principle of absolute police authority worth killing hundreds of people every year to preserve it? How many times do we have to watch video of police summarily executing a human being for the crime of failing to obey a command? Wittingly or unwittingly.

What Michael Slager taught us is that the time to address police violence on a local, state, and federal level has come.

Marc Ash is the founder and former Executive Director of Truthout, and is now founder and Editor of Reader Supported News.

Reader Supported News is the Publication of Origin for this work. Permission to republish is freely granted with credit and a link back to Reader Supported News. your social media marketing partner


A note of caution regarding our comment sections:

For months a stream of media reports have warned of coordinated propaganda efforts targeting political websites based in the U.S., particularly in the run-up to the 2016 presidential election.

We too were alarmed at the patterns we were, and still are, seeing. It is clear that the provocateurs are far more savvy, disciplined, and purposeful than anything we have ever experienced before.

It is also clear that we still have elements of the same activity in our article discussion forums at this time.

We have hosted and encouraged reader expression since the turn of the century. The comments of our readers are the most vibrant, best-used interactive feature at Reader Supported News. Accordingly, we are strongly resistant to interrupting those services.

It is, however, important to note that in all likelihood hardened operatives are attempting to shape the dialog our community seeks to engage in.

Adapt and overcome.

Marc Ash
Founder, Reader Supported News

+65 # fredboy 2015-04-13 09:09
We are entrusting lethal force to those who cannot be trusted. Time to ramp up qualifications for all law enforcement. Plus better training and better pay. And extreme criminal penalties for wrongdoing.
+30 # Barbara K 2015-04-13 12:10
Also, there should be Federal Special Prosecutors involved in these shootings, and investigations, and the trials. Allowing the police to police themselves is like letting a bank robber decide if he should be arrested and brought to trial all on his own.

+21 # Adoregon 2015-04-13 12:23
What we are witnessing is a culture of [police] impunity meeting the reality of
real-time video truth.
+9 # jsluka 2015-04-13 19:12
We've already got "extreme criminal penalties for wrongdoing" and it hasn't helped one bit. The "lock em up and throw away the key" approach is a proven failure, just like the so-called 'war on drugs.'
+26 # countrygirlagain 2015-04-13 09:37
I'm hearing interesting comments about dangers of body cameras on police; I've seen no convincing arguments that guns make a safe social scene.

Iy is definitely time to take the power away from the arms dealers.
+19 # dyannne 2015-04-13 11:24
Yes, I'm hearing those so-called dangers too from certain people, such as domestic violence scenes where people will be on camera and not wanting to be seen in those situations. Well, maybe citizens as well will start behaving better if a few of those videos get posted on youtube. Maybe men will learn to not punch their wives and girlfriends and women will learn not to scream and taunt their husbands and boyfriends. These videos may help everyone be better selves.
+20 # Barbara K 2015-04-13 12:13
Also, the cams should be put on the officers by the Captains and not turned off or removed until the Captains do that too. All the officers now are doing is shutting off the cameras if a conflict arises; and anything incriminating is being erased. That has to be prevented.

+15 # fletch1165 2015-04-13 12:32
WE have GPS and wifi. The feed should be sent instantly via satellite. Anything less is acceptance of police corruption. Shame on our leaders for this preventable murder. Simple steps is all we are asking and these murders become near impossible to get away with. No accountability = NO RESPECT. FU police that will not follow the laws you swore to uphold. You are immoral and not worthy of a badge. Satan's little children.
-12 # skylinefirepest 2015-04-13 14:04
Country girl, I fail to see how your comment has anything at all to do with this article. Please explain!
+31 # Merlin 2015-04-13 10:32
“What Michael Slager taught us is that the time to address police violence on a local, state, and federal level has come.”

Yes, well, the time is very long over due.

With all due respect, the emphasis has to be at the top!

Cameras are great, as is more and better training. Additional non violent means of capturing suspects (someone has brought up on a number of occasions a net gun) would be helpful. There are any number of things that can be done to cut down on the gun violence at the street level. Doing these things is no problem, and it is not the problem!

Currently, there is a very sick ideology at work at the top, when swat teams proliferate, and tanks along with all sorts of military gear are sold/given to the local police stations.

However, as long as there is no reform by dedicated top law enforcement officials like the federal and state Attorneys General, and on down to the police Captains, the efforts will be no more than rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic.

There has to be instituted a zero tolerance policy, holding all police officers to the highest standards. That policy must be fairly and strongly pursued. Until there is the will to do this, the problem won’t be solved.
+13 # tomwalker8 2015-04-13 11:52
Besides everything else, there is a well documented, baked in conflict of interest for prosecutors investigating police accused of crimes. In addition to which there is substantial evidence of police retaliation against the rare prosecutor with temerity enough to seriously undertake an investigation of police wrongdoing.

Body cameras with no off switch are a step in the right direction, as are citizens observing and recording incidents such as this one.
+8 # Marjory Munson 2015-04-13 12:25
How many - especially black men - might be alive today if the police who shot them had known they were on camera because they were WEARING the camera!
+1 # fletch1165 2015-04-13 12:26
I am against the death penalty. But for corrupt officials and police who murder there is a huge betrayal to our society. I call for it in this case sadly. I am very disgusted at the racist hate criminals in our society that seem to permeate positions of trust. Enough. I see no other option at this time than to fight fire with fire, which is all these racist low IQ blockheads understand. Its time to lay down the anvil or people are going to get pissed.
-5 # skylinefirepest 2015-04-13 14:03
Fletch...bear in mind that this is not at all limited to blacks...the shootings seem to be pretty well divided according to race. There are many justified shootings but there needs to be some accounting from the people we depend on to administer the laws.
+4 # Radscal 2015-04-13 17:13
Whites get shot by cops, too. But the statistics I've seen (which of course are incomplete) show about 26% of people killed by cops are black. Since blacks are 13% of the population, they are being killed at twice the rate, not "well divided according to race."
+10 # pegasus4508 2015-04-13 12:29
It is beyond obvious that there is a specific script and all police departments have it on file for when an officer shoots an unarmed black male. It goes something like this... "I was in fear for my life...." We almost know the rest by heart. What I could not understand was how many people were in on the coverup? After all, shot in the back don't look like anything BUT being shot in the back.
+7 # tedrey 2015-04-13 12:49
And already the police are initiating the next protective tactic. See the latest video from a police killing at:

The faces of the policemen are covered by superimposed white rectangles, perhaps to protect their identity. If this becomes precedent, the police will be allowed to conceal "anything" they want to, cameras be damned!
+5 # davidh7426 2015-04-13 13:25
"Leave the gun. Take the cannolis."

The police in America are rapidly becoming an organised criminal force to rival the Mob.

The godfather will be jealous.
+1 # Radscal 2015-04-13 17:21
Cops in many cities have long been the "legal" enforcement arm of the mob.
+9 # progressiveguy 2015-04-13 18:42
I've seen this so many times, cops wanting to kill an unarmed black man so bad that they not only shoot them, they empty their gun into them. Usually one gun shot wound will bring a man down or at least put him in shock but the cops down't want him to survive the shooting so they shoot a suspect multiple times, then take their time calling any medical help for their victims.
+1 # cordleycoit 2015-04-14 10:50
Well I've been threatened by armed thug copsMany years ago I was a peace officer a different concept. Had to handle bikers, miners and skiers with original thinking rather than lethal force. The real estate guys who owned the town wanted authoritarian gun law. the real crooks aways win.

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