Around here, the biggest news item this week was the shooting of Walter Scott by North Charleston, South Carolina police officer Michael Slager. Scott, who is black, ran from a traffic stop, perhaps because he was afraid of being jailed for being delinquent on child support payments. It appears that Slager, who is white, gave chase on foot and caught Scott. Some type of scuffle ensued. Slager at least initially claimed that Scott sought to obtain control of his Taser during the struggle. A bystander captured video of the last moments of the scuffle, which ended with Scott breaking free of Slager and running away, apparently unarmed. Slager fired eight shots at Scott’s back as he fled, killing Scott. Slager has been fired from his job and charged with murder. CNN has the story here.
The incident has given a renewed impetus to the push to equip officers with body cameras. At least two bills are pending in the North Carolina General Assembly regarding cameras. The News and Observer discusses both bills in this article. H537 appears to have the better prospects, as it has attracted some Republican support. It would provide $10 million over the next two years to help fund the acquisition of cameras and generally would require all officers in counties with populations over 200,000 to wear cameras and record specified interactions with the public. A News and Observer editorial supporting the bill claims that the bill would cover about 60% of the state’s officers. Continue reading