Former police officer Michael Slager, who shot and killed Walter Scott, an unarmed black man, in the back as he was running slowly away in North Charleston, South Carolina, pleaded guilty today to violating the slain man’s civil rights. Then Officer Slager was caught on a cell phone camera gunning down Walter Scott as he ran slowly away. Thereafter, the video shows Slager walking over to the lifeless body and dropping his taser next to the motionless Scott before calling dispatch and reporting that Scott had wrestled with him for his taser causing Slager to fear for his life as justification for shooting the unarmed Scott in the back.
This incident created a national firestorm when it occurred representing one of the many instances in 2016 where unarmed black men were shot and killed by law enforcement officers across the United States. The Corporate Justice Blog has reported on these many instances opining that this loss of human capital and the lawlessness exhibited by these law enforcement officers stymies confidence in U.S. law and order and contributes to the extremely difficult relationship that exists between African American communities and state and national law enforcement agencies. In a recent article, Lord Forgive Me but He Tried to Kill Me: Proposing Solutions to the United States’ Most Vexing Racial Challenges, I discuss this deep level of distrust held by black and brown communities toward law enforcement officers. I propose significant and powerful reforms in both police training and police hiring in the article as well as suggest that deadly force law across the United States’ be changed from a standard of “fear for life” to a standard of “preserving human life at all costs.”
The New York Times reports: “More than two years after a North Charleston, S.C., police officer fired eight rounds to the back of a fleeing and unarmed black motorist whose burst of gunfire was recorded on video, the officer stood in a federal courtroom on Tuesday to plead guilty to charges that he violated the slain man’s civil rights. The plea by the officer, Michael T. Slager, assured a rare conviction of a law enforcement official for an on-duty killing, and it left him facing the possibility of life in prison for the April 2015 shooting of Walter L. Scott. Mr. Slager pleaded guilty to a single charge of willfully using excessive force to deprive Mr. Scott of his civil rights.”
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