By now you’ve likely all seen the video. A white cop in South Carolina shot and killed an unarmed black man who was running in the opposite direction.
I know what you’re all thinking — again? Have we not learned anything from Ferguson? Get out the hash tags, start the protests, it’s time to —
Wait, what? The South Carolina mayor decried the act? And the police officer has already been charged with murder?
Talk about acting swiftly to avoid a media sensation. Nice job, South Carolina. But bad job by that cop. Really bad job. Like, the worst job. Ever.
I write for a living. When I suck at my job for a day, it means I made a typo in an article. When a cop sucks at his or her job, they could end somebody’s life. And that has obviously been a huge point of contention in the United States recently.
- I’ve said this before, but thank goodness everybody has a smartphone now.
- It appears that the difference between what cops say happened and what did happen is alarmingly different.
- It will take a long time before we see any changes incur from the events in Ferguson.
The police officer, Michael Slager, pulled over the victim, Walter Scott, for a routine traffic stop. Scott fled into the park, and after a brief altercation where Slager tried to stun Scott with his Taser, Scott ran away and Slager shot at him eight times, connecting on five, killing him.
Worth noting about North Charleston, where this took place, is that African Americans make up 47 percent of the population. White people, meanwhile, make up 80 percent of the police force. Scott also had a criminal record. He’d been arrested 10 times, although the arrests had nothing to do with this incident.
The biggest difference between this and Ferguson is that this one was caught on camera by a bystander. Otherwise, the only record of what happened would be from Slager, who initially said he feared for his life because Scott stole his Taser.
The video shows a different interpretation, and allowed law enforcement to act quickly to charge Slager. That never would have happened without the visual evidence, and justice would not have been served. It makes you wonder how many other altercations involving police were resolved based on an officer’s inaccurate interpretation?
Finally, there’s been a lot of recommendations for changes in policing since Ferguson. One of them is for officers to be less reliant on using their guns. But people fail to realize that it’s going to take a whole new generation of cops for any real cultural changes to be realized.
Cops are not going to alter their behavior overnight. It will require intense training, and even that can’t possibly undo years and years of police practice. Change is going to take a long time.
It’s probably for the best that this doesn’t turn into a Ferguson. #NorthCharleston just doesn’t have the same ring.
But it’s only going to continue the narrative of systemic racism and disproportionate racial disparity in police forces.
Oh well. To lighten the mood a bit, the Boston marathon bomber was convicted on all charges, and faces either life in prison or the death penalty!
Wait, that’s not happier news at all.
I’m going outside now to kick puppies.