In a video taken by Feidin Santana, a bystander, this is the moment Officer Michael Slager (right) began to shoot eight rounds at the back of Walter Scott who was unarmed as he fled. Scott died shortly afterward.

The killing of unarmed black men is not a series of isolated incidents

It’s become a common sight on television news that leaves many of us saying, “Not again.”

The killing of unarmed black men by white police officers is something that we hear about far too often.

The sad question is, would Michael Slager of the New Charleston Police Department have been arrested on the charge of murder if he hadn’t been caught on tape shooting Walter Scott in the back? Who knows, but recent history says “no.”

After the incident in which Slager reportedly shot eight rounds at Scott, who was running from the stationary officer, Slager claimed that he feared for his life because Scott had supposedly gotten ahold of his taser.

While it’s true that Scott fled from the officer during the initial traffic stop, the “fearing for your life” excuse cannot come from threat of a taser.

Furthermore, under no circumstances is it acceptable to shoot a man in the back while he’s running away.

If I shot a man that was running away from me, I’d be carted off to jail immediately.

The initial statement from the police department simply reiterated Slager’s story of a struggle over a taser that led to the officer shooting in self-defense.

Police reports are considered to be expert testimony in trials. If police can just lie with impunity, what’s the point.

If we continue to simply accept the official line and don’t speak up when we see injustice, nothing is ever going to change.

Thankfully, Officer Slager was arrested for his crime; but let’s be honest – he was only charged because it was caught on tape. It’s scary to think of all of the officer-involved shootings where it was only the officer’s word over the word of a dead man.

Even with police killings being caught on tape, it isn’t always an open-and-shut case.

When Eric Garner said “I can’t breathe” 11 times while a police officer brought him to the ground in a chokehold – the incident that directly caused Garner’s death – the was caught on tape but the officer wasn’t indicted.

Our society bends over backward to stand on the side of police in these cases, even when evidence to the contrary stares us in the face.

Despite the fact that Scott’s death was unambiguously caught on tape, the officer will have his day in court to defend his actions, and there will sadly be people who stand behind him in support.

I’m not saying all police officers are corrupt. I’m not even saying most police officers are bad.

However, we’ve entered a scary realm where police officers are capable of doing heinous things with zero consequences.

Vest and dashboard cams haven’t curbed bad things from happening.

We’re at a point where if you see the police confronting someone – anyone – bystanders need to immediately begin recording the incident.

If police can’t police themselves, then we need to do it for them.

Feidin Santana, the man who captured Slager gunning down Scott on video said he almost erased the video.

“I felt that my life, with this information, might be in danger,” Santana told MSNBC.

The claim that police shootings of unarmed black men is just “a series of isolated incidents” has become the most laughable way to excuse race issues and police culture.

How can we ask questions if we refuse to acknowledge the systemic problem of police receiving positive reinforcement (i.e. no consequences) for killing unarmed people in America?

It’s time we all stand up to the institution that requires a video of a crime before they’ll even start to do something about it.

We cannot let our fellow man stand alone. We must stand with them to rid our society of such violent corruption.

  • Dan Waterhouse

    Police do not exist in a vacuum. They reflect the society they’re supposed to protect. When the legal system is seen as ineffective and weak, police are often pressed to solve the problems themselves by the politicians and the vocal public. All one has to do is look at Brazil in the 1960s when police organized death squads to eliminate criminals. In this country, there is a growing trend towards vigilantism. I’ve noticed it here and on the coast. These groups can develop a great deal of political clout. In one Central Coast community, it’s been claimed an anti crime group controls the city council. Good police administrators and officers resist such pressure but it can get difficult.