Without Video, Killing Walter Scott would never Be Punished

The only reason the government acknowledges Walter Scott was unlawfully killed is because it is legal to video-record police.

As you probably heard on the news yesterday or the day before, a police officer has been arrested for murder. But that could easily have not happened. Patrolman Michael Slager had told a different story, as the Post and Courier reports.

Slager said earlier this week in the statement from his attorney at the time that his encounter with Scott had started around 9:30 a.m. Saturday as a routine traffic stop.

His department said he pulled over Scott’s Mercedes-Benz sedan near Remount and Craig roads because it had a broken brake light. But at some point, Scott ran away with Slager in pursuit on foot. Scott’s passenger stayed with the Mercedes.

During the foot chase over a dirt-surfaced road near a small park, Scott confronted Slager, according to the lawyer’s statement. Slager got out his Taser to subdue the man, but Scott took the device during a struggle, the statement said. That’s when the officer fired at Scott several times because he “felt threatened,” it added.

It is unclear how much of this was made up, but the video shows Slager shooting a fleeing Scott several times. He shot at his back when Scott was some distance away and attempting to run further.

Five of the eight bullets hit Scott, his family’s attorney said. Four of those struck his back. One hit an ear.

The footage filmed by a bystander, which The Post and Courier obtained Tuesday from a source who asked to remain anonymous, shows the end of the confrontation between the two on Saturday after Scott ran from a traffic stop. It was the first piece of evidence contradicting an account Slager gave earlier this week through his attorney.

If this hadn’t been caught on video, you know that Slager’s story would have been permitted to stand and defended by his department and the state government.

What does this mean?

I means that, when legislators try to criminalize video recording police they are removing accountability from the system. They are doing something that is fundamentally dangerous to the American people.