8 Apr 2015

Another white officer, another black shooting

There are two things which are unusual about Walter Scott’s death. The quality of the video, and the fact that a policeman has been charged.

The two of course are not necessarily unconnected.

The officer involved, Michael Slager, has been charged with murder and the FBI and US Justice Department are investigating the shooting, as civil rights leaders call for calm.

It may be America, but the place the video recalls most easily is Soweto.

A white man in uniform, gunning down a black man as he strides away, running across open land.

It appears an execution. The steady hand of the eye witness guiding his phone to film the whole scene.

We know now that in the immediate aftermath, before the video was uploaded, the policeman claimed Walter Scott had taken his taser, and that CPR was attempted after the shots were fired.

Both of these claims are challenged by what we see in the video – the policeman picking something up from where the pair had wrestled, and dropping it by Walter’s body.

Did he know how to get away with what he’d just done? And there’s no obvious attempt at resuscitation.

Time and again

I’ve lived in the United States just one year. In that time, we have scrutinised CCTV from Cleveland of a 12-year-old boy Tamir Rice being shot at point blank range within half a second of a policeman springing from his patrol car, as Tamir stood with a replica pistol by his side.

We have revisited Ferguson many times, and witnessed the anger at the killing of Michael Brown, an unarmed 18-year-old, shot by a white policeman six times.

We have stood in Penn Station in New York City and watched hundreds of protesters flood into the hall in the name of the #BlackLivesMatter movement, and Eric Garner, who was choked to death by a policeman on video, after he was questioned for selling single cigarettes.

We have stood at the vigil for James Boyd, a year after two police officers shot him dead as he surrendered to them, on a mountainside in New Mexico.

Two officers were charged over that – and now another officer charged over the death of Walter Scott. The family’s lawyer has appealed for the law to take its course. Walter Scott deserves at least that.

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8 reader comments

  1. Philip Edwards says:


    More needless tragedy.

    Words are almost superfluous.

    At this rate, the USA will sink into history as an artificial nation that shot itself to death while trying to shoot down the rest of the world.

    If ever there was a time for decency to assert itself in that unhappy country it is now. But who would bet on it?

    1. mpops says:

      Great comment Philip, unfortunately the whole world is in some kind of suicide club

  2. mike says:

    Most Americans are thick as two short planks especially the ones who can only get jobs as cops.

    1. Andrew Dundas says:

      Hello Mike

      You clearly haven’t met the 325 million Americans. Nor the many intelligent and helpful US police.

      Aren’t you also as bigoted as any fanatic?

  3. Jay Davis says:

    What is truly remarkable is how someone can write this poop with a straight face. All this story reminds me of is how people like you ignore Dillon Taylor, John Greer, or Betty Sexton. You just don’t give a damn when the reverse of your narrative is true and far, far more white people are killed by cops than minorities. Find a mirror, woman.

  4. rob says:

    I lived for a year in Charleston SC
    if you were White and went into a Black area you could easily be killed
    there was no mixing between the races unlike NY Boston / in areas

    also in SC some Black areas were like out of the 1920s when you drove through or stopped at a Gas station
    The Black girls wore fancy hairdos and decorated nails and wore designer clothes like Hillfiger to work in the MeDonalds

    if you were stopped by the Police you did exactly what they said straight away and it was scary being stopped /in my case Vehicle violations

  5. tinashe says:

    As much as I agree with most of your comments, I think the reference to SOWETO, at the very least, is really unfortunate.

  6. James Alton says:

    The author of this piece is a deluded liberal who does harm in the racism that she, and her colleagues, show in their reporting. The police officer may be guilty of something criminal, perhaps manslaughter because of negligent behaviour, but probably not murder, though it would not surprise me that this police officer be a sacrificial lamb to keep peace loving, law respecting, African Americans from rioting.

    The headlines of this story says that the victim was shot because of a faulty brake light – if the victim’s only offence was a faulty brake light then he would not have been striding away, running across open ground. You see, this reporter can’t even bring herself to fully admit that the victim was running from the police officer.

    This is one incident of just a few minutes in the (probably) long time this police officer has spent in keeping law and order; he’s come across such incidences many, many times and he knows the drill and hopes that the other person also knows what is expected, but sometimes the actors don’t know their lines – mistakes happen for all kinds of reasons.

    This police officer is being prejudged as a murderer and the victim is being prejudged as an innocent angel – probably neither is true.

    The black people of the US insist that they be referred to as African Americans – it’s all in the name. They’re not part of the 90+% of Americans who just refer to themselves as Americans – they’re separate, with the same uniting, exclusive, mentality that muslims have.

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