News Release

Video of Killing of Walter Scott: Tip of an Iceberg?

The New York Times reports: “A white police officer in North Charleston, S.C., was charged with murder on Tuesday after a video surfaced showing him shooting in the back and killing an apparently unarmed black man while the man ran away.

“The officer, Michael T. Slager, 33, said he had feared for his life because the man had taken his stun gun in a scuffle after a traffic stop on Saturday. A video, however, shows the officer firing eight times as the man, Walter L. Scott, 50, fled. The North Charleston mayor announced the state charges at a news conference Tuesday evening.”

KEVIN ALEXANDER GRAY, kevinagray57 at gmail.com, @kevinagray
Co-editor of the new book Killing Trayvons: An Anthology of American Violence.  He said today: “Clearly, if that video hadn’t come out, this murder would have been covered up. The video clearly shows that the police lied. And it’s not uncommon for the police to lie. We have to ask about the shooting police officer’s partner. …” Gray appeared on “Democracy Now!” this morning.

CARLOS MILLER, carlosmiller at pinac.org
Miller founded the website PhotographyIsNotACrime.com and is author of The Citizen Journalist Photography Handbook. His recent pieces include: “Texas Deputies Caught on Camera Punching Pregnant Woman During CPS Visit,” “San Francisco Cops Caught on Video Beating Man With Nightstick as he Yells for Help,” “Minnesota Cop Claims to be ‘Officer Friendly’ as he Threatens to Break Legs of Young Man in Custody” and “New Jersey Cops Tried Confiscating Cameras After Mauling Man to Death With Police Dog.”

Miller just wrote the piece “South Carolina Cop Arrested for Murder After Video Shows Him Shooting Man in Back,” which states: “Prior to the video materializing, North Charleston police officer Michael Slager claimed he had chased Walter Scott on foot Saturday after trying to pull him over for a broken tail light.

“Slager claimed he tried to subdue Scott with a taser, only for Scott to take the taser from him before trying to overpower him, making the cop fear for his life, leaving him no choice but to open fire and kill the 50-year-old man.

“And he would likely have gotten away with it had it not been for a pesky bystander with a video camera.

“The video, posted below, shows Slager firing eight times from at least 20 feet away as Scott runs away, who ends up falling on the grass.

“Slager then calmly walks up to him as he speaks into his radio, informing dispatchers of ‘shots fired.’

“He then orders Scott to ‘put your hands behind your back’ as he appears to drop his taser next to his body, most likely an attempt to plant evidence against him.

“The video, recorded by an anonymous witness, lasted for more than three minutes, showing another cop arriving on the scene after Scott was already handcuffed. At no point in the video did the cops notice they were being recorded.

“The witness did a good job of keeping the camera trained on them without voicing any displeasure as we’ve seen so many people do in the past. …”

Background: The person who took the video showing the killing remains anonymous. Miller has said in the past: “I’ve been arrested three times while filming police — the last time was when the police dispersed Occupy Miami. I tell people: you have to be so clean because they’ll find a way to come after you — it’s like a ‘Blue Mafia.’ They all stick together and will find any pretext to come after someone.”

Late last year the choking death of Eric Garner set off headlines, but the video of the police choking him was taken by Ramsey Orta — who was indicted on weapons charges shortly after making that video public and remains at Rikers Island prison. There have been reports he fears for his life.

Reuters reported “At some point during his arrest, Orta told officers, ‘You’re just mad because I filmed your boy,’ an NYPD spokeswoman said.” CBSNewYork reported: “Orta’s mother, Emily Mercado, said police have been following her son ever since he recorded Garner’s arrest.” The report quotes his wife, Chrissie Ortiz, stating: “The day after they declare it a homicide, you find someone next to him with a gun, and you saw him pass it off? Out in public when he knows he’s in the public spotlight? It makes no sense.”