Officer Slager's view from under the bus
The segment of footage looks cut and dried: North Charleston's Officer Slager murders the fleeing Walter Scott. Immediately upon the video hitting the mainstream news, Officer Slager was placed under arrest for murder, fired from the police force, shunned by his employer, and pilloried across the country in the media.
Innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt is the threshold of the law. Upgraded footage of the event paints a bit of a different picture. Let's at least have an adult conversation about what really happened, instead of an emotional rush to judgment.
Activities that all would appear to agree upon:
- Legal, reasonable stop for the tail light infraction.
- Mr. Scott exits the car, against the officer's verbal directions, and flees.
- Prolonged foot pursuit ensues.
- Physical altercation between Officer Slager and Mr. Scott – felony assault on a police officer.
Issues that would appear to need resolving, based on the enhanced video:
- Officer Slager's taser has been put in use; a lead wire appears to extend from the officer's chest area. Was Officer Slager shot by Mr. Scott with his own taser, or was the wire simply tangled up with Officer Slager after being deployed during the physical altercation?
- Mr. Scott is entangled in the taser wires and flees, dragging the taser's charge cartridge along behind him. The taser shell remains on the ground behind Officer Slager as he fires his handgun at Mr. Scott.
Was an innocent man murdered, or was a fleeing dangerous suspect shot within the stricture of the law? Officer Slager's fate rests on that question. If we are to have a meaningful justice system, the facts and the blindfolded Lady Justice must be allowed to make the determination. Justice should not allow the race of either man to matter.
At a minimum, it is tragic that Officer Slager has been so quickly judged and perhaps prematurely thrown under the bus of apparent political correctness, even by those who claim to abhor such a rush to judgment, his employer, and fellow law enforcement cohorts. It is likely that presumed innocent until proven guilty looks very different from Officer Slager's view from under the bus. As a sign to all, we must await the outcome of the justice system to decide Officer Slager's fate. Our system of social justice relies upon such temperance.