Walter Scott Shooting

Michael Slager Indicted for Murder in the Death of Walter Scott

The North Charleston, South Carolina, officer fired eight rounds at Scott as he fled.

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NCPD

Today a grand jury indicted North Charleston, South Carolina, police officer Michael Slager for murder in the death of Walter Scott, the motorist he shot repeatedly in the back as he fled a traffic stop on April 4. Although Slager reported that Scott grabbed his Taser and therefore posed a threat, video shot by a passer-by shows Scott running away, apparently unarmed, as Slager fires eight rounds at him. The video also seems to show Slager retrieving an object—possibly the stun gun—and dropping it near Scott's body. After the recording emerged, Slager was fired and charged with murder, the same charge that was approved by the grand jury today.

Under South Carolina law, murder is "the killing of any person with malice aforethought, either express or implied." It is punishable by a mandatory term of 30 years to life, and the death penalty is possible if the case features aggravating circumstances such as torture, dismemberment, other violent felonies, or a prior murder conviction. The New York Times reports that "the case was presented to the grand jury on Monday morning, and the panel returned the indictment within a few hours."

In a column after the shooting, I argued that the incident illustrates both the importance of the right to record police and the extent to which cops disrespect that right.

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  1. Indicted doesn’t mean convicted.

    1. This. I don’t get hopeful when there are indictments any longer (see: The cops who murdered Kelly Thomas; see also: The cop who jumped onto the car hood in Cleveland and killed two people; see also: the “It wasn’t reckless because he intended to murder the guy, so not guilty” cop in Illinois). Show me a conviction of one of these cops, and I might feel better.

      1. This one seems pretty cut-and-dried, though cops seem to get away with, well, murder, a little too often to have complete confidence in a conviction.

        1. I’m not sure how a gaggle of officers jumping up and down on Kelly Thomas wasn’t cut-and-dried either.

          I mean I get that he technically died later from lack of oxygen to the brain, but surely there was a connection.

          1. Right. You’re not cop, you’re little people.

          2. I have to tamp down my optimism as well.

    2. Exactly. It has been DECADES since a cop was convicted of murder for killing somebody while wearing the badge (maybe there’s been manslaughter convictions; I’m not sure). Until cops start to actually fear for their liberty from the reckless/rash/malicious actions, they’ll keep on acting recklessly/rashly/maliciously. Simple as that.

    3. “Indicted doesn’t mean convicted.”

      Doesn’t mean I’ve won the lottery either, but it’s much better than I expected.

  2. The solution to this is that every scene of an arrest should be a no-video zone.

  3. Look- attempting to escape police custody is an egregious affront to the cop’s authority. It’s tantamount to a negation of everything that officer believes; his very personhood is being threatened.

    Attempted murder; GOOD SHOOT.
    BOOYAH.
    hth

    1. *smooches*

      1. In fairness to dunphy (can’t believe I’m saying that), IIRC he was on the threads for both the Walter Scott and the Tamir Rice shootings and called them straight up murder. Not that he’s not an apologist in many circumstances where he ought not be, but in both those cases I recall him being largely in unison with the rest of us.

  4. The motive for this shooting eludes me. Was Slager pissed off that this civilian had disobeyed him and simply too lazy to give chase?

    1. “The motive for this shooting eludes me.”

      Which I think is a good thing, Fist, since it informs me that you don’t have the mentality to be the type of police officer that shoots unarmed people in the back as they run away from you and then lie about the circumstances.

      1. Oh – I think you’ll enjoy a brief comedy skit, Fist: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q3obEhZwcD4

        It’s slightly on topic but you’ll have to read subtitles unless you understand Portuguese.

        1. Muito, muito bom!
          It’s rare that Youtube actually gets me laughing out loud. And on the other hand, it’s not really funny at all–apparently the ‘attitude’ is a little more widespread than I had thought.

    2. Winner winner, chicken dinner.

    3. So you’re saying he can’t be convicted of murder? BENCH ACQUITTAL!!!

    4. “The motive for this shooting eludes me. Was Slager pissed off that this civilian had disobeyed him ”

      You WILL respect my AuthoriTAH!

      That’s what most these murders are about. Someone fails to immediately *submit* to a cop, and he feels the need and feels *entitled* to assert his dominance through violence.

  5. I wonder how this can stand up to premeditated first degree murder. The cynic in me thinks it should be second degree or something less, and the DA deliberately overcharged to get an acquittal. The pissed-off part of me thinks almost every death at the hands of cops should be first degree murder, at least when they think they are immune and have their own peculiar bill of rights which make them the more equal pigs in the barnyard.

    1. Depends on if SC is one of those states where juries are allowed to consider lesser charges

    2. I think they overcharged, myself. To me, it looks like second-degree.

      I’m also wondering if/when they are going to charge for obstruction of justice. I’ve seen the video and screen caps, and I think there’s no question that the cop picked up the taser, walked it over to the body, and dropped it.

      Why no charge for that?

      1. ^This. There is video of him placing the taser next to the dying individual.

      2. Because there is no second-degree murder in South Carolina. There is only one degree of murder, and SC law believes that “premeditation” can be established only seconds before shooting, hence second degree and first degree are the same thing.

        Also note that he’s not a North Charleston, SC cop anymore. They fired him when the video came out, since South Carolina, like North Carolina, bans all state employees from collective bargaining, including cops, by the state constitution. Hence no real cop union, and hence he, like Randall Kerrick in Charlotte, was fired.

      3. I may agree with you. My god man I found a reasonable person in the comments section of Reason.

    3. It won’t be murder. It will be manslaughter. The murder charge will be dropped as part of a plea agreement cuz otherwise the cop has a reasonable chance of innocence or hung jury on the manslaughter charge (the claims of self-defense, the evidence the guy bolted on his own and is thus conceivably a threat if he gets away).

    4. No such thing as second degree murder in South Carolina. Here’s the code of laws. SC considers for the purposes of their single murder charge that premeditation can occur mere seconds before pulling the trigger.

    5. The pissed-off part of me thinks almost every death at the hands of cops should be first degree murder, at least when they think they are immune and have their own peculiar bill of rights which make them the more equal pigs in the barnyard.

      Cops do have special rights right now; pretending otherwise just means you’re out of touch with reality.

      If you want cops to get convicted of homicide when they shoot fleeing suspects, you need to change laws, not just bellyache over what happens in courts. The courts can’t fix this.

  6. Somehow I doubt this will any more ‘successful’ a prosecution than the guy who got off because there were so many bullets in the victim they couldn’t say that his bullets killed him. And the prosecutor ‘forgot’ to include the lesser charge of attempted murder.

  7. “In the interest of justice, the officer has offered to enter a plea of guilty to Discharging a Firearm Inside the City Limits. The plea is accepted, and a fine of five dollars is assessed. Next case.”

  8. North Charleston, South Carolina, police officer Michael Slager

    That’s former police officer, thankfully. They fired him when that video came out. Thank goodness for a sensible state constitution that bans public employees from collectively bargaining.

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  10. Psssttt…gather round kiddies…it’s lesson time. Perception-time lag. 15 second delay. Watch the video from the time the struggle stops to the time the shooting starts.

    Sorry what was I thinking? That would be too rationale.

    1. Damien,

      Please provide a link to the video to which you refer. The linked video in this article does not corroborate your analysis in that it does not show a struggle.

      If Mr. Sullum needs to update his article with additional footage I hope he will do so.

      Do not expect a “Hat Tip” from any Reason contributors.
      Regardless, readers might be better informed from your efforts.

  11. The following question has been heard, respecting “civilians” complaining of “surveillance”. “If you don’t have anything to hide, why complain” or words to that effect. Interestingly,given that “officialdom” sometimes has a great deal it would prefer to hide, how come that most salient question is hardly ever addressed to it’s members.

  12. I’d like to think they’d hang him from the tree in the picture.

    But they probably won’t even convict him.

  13. Justice is tough to achieve. Information, real info, videos or facts are a must. How to keep the emotional fringe out is above my pay grade. We are emotional beings. Don’t screw up your life or someone else’s. Can we do that?

  14. Google pay 97$ per hour my last pay check was $8500 working 1o hours a week online. My younger brother friend has been averaging 12k for months now and he works about 22 hours a week. I cant believe how easy it was once I tried it out.
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