The New Blues

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The matter of the North Charleston SC police shooting of Walter Scott by NCPD officer Michael Slager is the perfect culmination to the recent discussions of officer involved shootings that has had America riveted.

In this case the officers actions are a very familiar narrative of policing in America but because of citizen video instead becomes damning evidence of homicide. This new narrative is less familiar to some. Officer Slager in fact has been arrested and charged and the usual suspects such as the NAACP and ACLU smell blood in the water. Support for either the officer,the police in general or the whole “don’t shoot” inc. is evident wherever one looks on social media outlets.

The facts appear to be:

  1. Scott was pulled over due to a broken tail light in his Mercedes Benz
  2. Upon running the driver it is found Scott has outstanding Family Court warrants
  3. Scott attempts to flee the scene,leaving a passenger in the vehicle,Slager initiates a foot pursuit.
  4. In some sequence Scott confronts the officer,a TASER is deployed,Scott strikes the officer causing the TASER to go to the ground,Scott runs again.
  5. Slager does not continue a foot pursuit or radio an increased danger to the public.
  6. Slager opens fire with his service weapon striking Scott multiple times.
  7. Slager handcuffs Scott and radios an update.
  8. Slager picks up the TASER and walks it to Scotts body and drops it beside Scott.
  9. Scott is dead at the scene.

The ‘hood gets bad vindication

The oft cited narrative from affected communities is bolstered as the actions of Slager reinforce every bias and belief that the police are corrupt. Others get a raw view as to how the police do in fact take actions to support their reports.

The worse part about this is that in the majority of incidents the police don’t need to embellish and usually don’t bother. The issue of ramped up charges seems like a scary tactic but it is something that the books not only allow but encourage. For example you can get charged with battery,assault and battery with a deadly/dangerous weapon(shod foot) all for the same single kick to someone. As for evidence there are incidents where in picking one suspect from a group officers see a bag of drugs,an open alcohol container or even a weapon. ITS RIGHT FREAKING THERE! The cops ask who owns it…nobody admits it the guy in cuffs buys it. You can call this unfair but it is hardly evidence planting.

My examples are real world seen with my own eyes stuff. I’ve stood in the rooms and on the street corners where the hate and fear or at least severe apprehension of the police was palpable. Its because of that I say with some conviction that the “‘hood is getting bad vindication”. The video of the North Charleston shooting cements peoples belief of an untrue norm.

Smile You’re on Camera 

The case for police body cams has been given a startling boost. I dare say a now undeniable call for the deployment of the cameras has been sounded. Police officers in my opinion should be leading the charge in mandating them. Cops who resist the body cam are not taking the correct view of the new reality of their careers. Cameras are everywhere anyway and over 50% of them are going to be controlled by people who don’t view you positively. Cops should look at how dash board cameras have  helped not only in criminal cases but helped improve the public perception of cops.

Policy Overhaul

Policies need to be organized in a comprehensive and universal manner and enforced at the state level or even perhaps the federal level. It should not matter what zip code you are in as to how you are treated by the police or how as an officer you will perform your duties.

Areas of special focus include when it is proper to unholster lethal and non lethal weapons. The goal of deploying and discharging these assets should be clearly set. The public should be informed that secondary to some policies suspects including felons may not be pursued and that the police departments will be faultless of any consequences of that fact. The public and the police will need to come to grips with policies that will mandate proper strengths and controls to be in place. What this means is that one or two cops will not pepper spray,mace or even shoot the 100 looters ruining your life’s work unless a clearly defined and understood line is crossed at which time it should be understood by all that it is now “Shoot to Kill, Fire at Will”.

Hard Truth

The world is very likely better off without Michael Brown and Eric Gardner but although all signs point to Walter Scott being a total piece of shit his death was unavoidable to an extreme.

Officer Slager’s story is yet to be fully told. One could make the case that he did exactly what the culture that formed him dictates. This wasn’t necessarily a racist or hateful shooting. It can honestly be seen as the mind numbingly “logical” outcome of official training and societal grooming.

Policing is not easy work,not for the officers or the policy makers. In fact policing is not easy for anyone and this includes the general public. Society calls upon the police to maintain order and have at times put the police on a tight leash as well as letting them loose. Vigilance of the police on the beat is important. Vigilance from the public is paramount.

***The video of this shooting is readily available via the NYT,The Charleston Post and the UK’s Guardian. I have chosen not to embed it for reasons of my own choosing

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9 Comments

  1. Rutherford says:

    So a couple of points.
    First, as you can imagine, I disagree about the world being better off without Gardner. Brown was a menace with a bleak future. Gardner, in my view was a harmless fool. No choir boy but no great menace to society either.

    I am frustrated that Scott was such a scumbag. I am so sick and tired of seeing dysfunctional blacks at the wrong end of a gun. It only leads to the MSM condescendingly referring to the victim as some saint, when the total opposite is true. And in my mind, while the victim might not have deserved to die, their profile undermines their case in my view. If Scott hadn’t run in the first place (which he wouldn’t have done if he were a law abiding person) he would most likely be alive today.

    Second I have stupid question, which I’d like you to address based on your real-world experience. When I was a kid, the old police line was “stop or I’ll shoot”. This of course implied the cop was yelling at someone who was running away. Is it kosher to shoot at an unarmed perp who is running away from you? (For the sake of argument we won’t get into the fact that Slager shot him 8 times.)

  2. Alfie says:

    First you did indeed pin the line I thought you’d hate.
    Second I want to reiterate that although I find Scott a likely scumbag I don’t think he should’ve been shot let alone killed.
    And last for your query. The SCOTUS has deemed it unconstitutional to shoot an unarmed fleeing suspect unless you can prove the suspect represents a danger to the officer or public. The bar is very high but police do win when the “reasonableness” is pondered. I find it interesting that the case law is based on the concept of seizure,with getting killed being an extreme form of seizure. An armed felon can pretty much be targeted. Out of todays other headlines as it were is how the Marathon bomber was fired on as he lay in the bottom of that boat. Given the earlier exploits through Cambridge and Watertown it was “reasonable” to assume he was dangerous.

  3. Alfie says:

    Actually in the Scott case I think you’ll see an attempt at using the video as a reason to believe he had gotten the TASER from Slager. It ain’t gonna work but….

  4. jonolan says:

    OK, looking at your timeline, the only bad police behavior I see is the moving of the taser, which is both bad and stupid since I can’t see the necessity of it.

    You’ve also got it wrong about about the SCOTUS ruling in that it is not a high bar to “prove” that the perp was dangerous. However, even with a high bar, assault on a LEO would meet it since, if your messed up enough to attack an armed cop, you’re definitely a danger.

  5. Alfie says:

    Thanks for stopping by Jonolan.
    My timeline was presented not to sit in judgement but to be a Joe Friday just the facts kind of thing.
    We’ll have to disagree on the SCOTUS interpretations. I believe its Garner and Graham that combined creates the high bar I spoke of. Garner clearly does as it focused on unarmed fleeing suspects finding that the local departments policy was too vague for Constitutional credibility. Graham seems to have established the reasonable objectiveness gig as well as bolstered the notion of “qualified immunity” but it doesn’t negate Garner it creates the case by case review.In the Scott shooting the video either supports or crushes ones positions depending on how one wields it.
    Slager’s survival in my opinion requires one to believe there was a reasonable objective belief that Scott poised a continued threat. He will be grilled on whether he was aware of exactly the type of outstanding warrant on Scott and if he reported and believed up to the point shots were fired that Scott was a threat.Swatting at a cop and resisting does not meet the bar.
    FWIW I think Slagers Constitutional rights have been transgressed and that will be worthy of a case of its own.

  6. jonolan says:

    While part of me wishes I could agree with you, the majority of me doesn’t. To my knowledge no officer was indicted in the the Garner debacle and, while Garner set the standard, the body of subsequent case law / legal precedent has lowered the stated “standard” by classifying much that is subjective an inferred as fact.

    Furthermore, those precedents do imply – to the point of de facto accepted fact under the law – that assaulting a LEO does meet the bar of continuing threat…in no small part because of the expected lethal outcome of doing so – yep! circular logic for somebody’s win,

    As as legalistic sidenote, “qualified immunity” is a mismatched term in this instance since it is centered in tort law, not criminal law.

  7. Alfie says:

    In the Garner case the city’s police policy was ruled unconstitutional and was changed so as not to “allow” illegal seizure secondary to vagueness.
    Graham is the bar “lower-er” as it allows the objective reasonable interpretation of an LEO and his/her peers. I think given Scotts distance and again I stress the publicly unknown knowledge Slager was or wasn’t in possession of dictates possibly that he indeed used excessive,unreasonable and unlawful force.

  8. Rutherford says:

    Alfie, you’ve peaked my curiosity. How were Slager’s constitutional rights infringed?

  9. Alfie says:

    I think his ability to have a fair trial and prosecution is out the window. The video,news coverage and his being fired (reported) as opposed to suspended deny him his rights.

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