White Cop Who Shot Unarmed Black Man Dead Not Getting Away With Murder Just Yet
This is something you don't see every day. Or hardly ever. But on Monday, a grand jury indicted former North Charleston police officer Michael Slager, who shot an unarmed black man dead because "oops, I thought I was shooting my Taser instead," for murder.
We were plenty shocked in April when Slager was charged with the murder of Walter Scott, thanks in no small part to some nosy bystander capturing the whole incident on video, calling into question Slager's initial claim that he had to shoot Walter Scott dead in self-defense because he feared for his life, whoops. (Can't blame the officer for trying; that usually works!)
The video, however, shows Slager firing eight bullets until Scott drops to the ground, then handcuffing Scott's body -- just as an extra precaution, we guess. Prosecutors in North Charleston, South Carolina, didn't buy Slager's story and charged him with murder. And, much to our shock and surprise, the grand jury didn't buy the story either and says there is sufficient cause for Slager to stand trial. Improbable but true!
You may recall that at the time of the shooting, conservatives immediately went into "That Thug Had It Comin'" spin mode because that is what they do every time a white cop kills a black man. Or woman. Or child. This time, according to the wingnut idiotsphere, Slager was justified in killing an unarmed black man because that unarmed black man had "a record." For assault and battery! In 1987, which Slager must have known and thus had reason to fear for his very life! Officer Slager, meanwhile, has a record of his own:
Before Mr. Scott’s death, Mr. Slager had been the subject of two formal complaints, including one for excessive force after he used his Taser while he pursued a burglary suspect.
Slager was cleared in one of those cases, but:
Police records obtained by The New York Times show that Mr. Slager was involved in 19 use-of-force episodes during his tenure as a police officer, including the shooting death of Mr. Scott and the encounter with Mr. Givens.
Of those 19 episodes, the records show, at least 14 involved Mr. Slager using his Taser in some manner. Mr. Scott’s shooting was the only time that Mr. Slager fired his handgun while on patrol.
Yes, we know Slager is innocent until proven guilty, although that video seems pretty damning, but the jury will decide just how damning it is. And while no charges, trial, or conviction will bring Scott back to life, we may see justice done for a black man killed by a white police officer, just this once.