South Carolina Police Shooting of Unarmed Walter Scott: Can We Prevent More Tragedy?

Walter Scott served for two years in the US Coast Guard

Disturbing footage has surfaced of North Charleston Police Officer Michael Slager repeatedly shooting unarmed 50-year-old Walter Scott in the back as Walter flees for his life and then collapses with his face in the dirt.

Because Officer Slager is white, and Walter Scott was black, racial tensions have reached an incendiary level. Another officer on the scene, who was also black, appears to examine Walter’s bullet ridden back, but neither officer appears to help the victim or administer any type of CPR. 

Samuel Scott holds a photograph of Walter Scott (R), his cousin. (Christina Elmore/Post and Courier)

Toward the end of the video, Slager can be seen checking Scott for a pulse as Scott’s face is still motionless in the dirt. The video is shaky, but damning. You can view it in its entirety here.

Slager has been charged with murder. The FBI is investigating the tragedy.

North Charleston Police Chief Eddie Driggers said, “I have watched the video and I was sickened by what I saw … When you’re wrong, you’re wrong. And if you make a bad decision – (I) don’t care if you’re behind the shield or just a citizen on the street – you have to live by that decision.”

Walter is remembered by his brother, Anthony Scott, as being a loving, kind and outgoing person who “knew everybody.” Walter spent two years serving in the US Coast Guard, and had four children.

“I don’t think that all police officers are bad cops,” Anthony said, “but there are some bad ones out there, and I don’t want to see anyone get shot down the way that my brother got shot down.”

Which brings us to the question: How can we prevent more tragedy?

Many believe video and live streaming surveillance of police officers and police activities will help. Whether it be to clear a good officer of false allegations or to expose the crimes of a dirty cop, body cameras, police car cameras, and live streaming feeds, do present a hopeful solution.

Last month, Tomball Police Department ordered new video equipment, including 50 body-worn cameras for $20,000, and real-time streaming technology on 13 police vehicles for another $20,000.

“We have ordered 50 cameras for the officers, and we expect those to be in within the next couple of weeks. I would expect to receive them sometime in April, and then we’d go through on the training of the policy and cameras. You’ll start seeing them on the officers beginning in May.” – Tomball Police Chief Billy Tidwell

Do you think police body cams will help? What are some other measures you can think of to help protect both our citizens and our public servants?

Infographic courtesy of Impact News.

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