The bloody trail of police violence, that always seems to happen off camera, finally made it into the eyes-wide-open lens of America, as a literal smoking gun video, showing the brutal and tragic slaying of Walter Scott, has emerged, bringing a murder charge to the police officer who killed him, Michael Thomas Slager.
For the first time, America gets to see one of these “police incidents”, that so many people tend to have opinions on… even if they are based on their own personal speculation, finally in full-blown uncensored mode. What lies beneath the rocks is every bit as slimy as you can imagine.
The Smoking Gun
The incident started off as just another ‘black man shot by cops’ story, which, to the utter horror of our humanity, has become as passe as another school shooting. Another suspect, Scott, “who happens to be African-American” (by coincidence I suppose) resisted arrest, according to the police report, attacked the officer, Michael Thomas Slager, and he shot the suspect in a heroic story of self-defense for the public good by an officer who humbly accepted the blah blah blah. The story began to fall off, as the cop’s lawyer came to the fore with a sworn statement that the officer had reported the 50 year old Walter Scott, who was pulled over on a traffic infraction (I believe it was the old busted tail-light excuse), then attempted to resist arrest and attack the younger cop. When Slager used his taser, it did not subdue Scott and “the driver tried to overpower Officer Slager in an effort to take his Taser.” So Slager, of course in self-defense, “felt threatened and reached for his department-issued firearm and fired his weapon.” What a hero!
The cycle of useless media and the echo chamber of division and distraction was about to begin. The department was squared to defend him and you could almost hear the right-wing glorification of Slager as the “hero cop”, already in progress. You could feel each side was gearing up for equal time on the awful morning network shows like Today. You could hear the Fox News gang getting rubbing their hands together as they read the talking points handed to them by the Heritage Foundation. They were readying their kangaroo court, ready to come out swinging to defend ‘the worst crime violence we’ve ever seen in our nation’s history’ (which would have been their usual hyperbole by definition) defended by a nearly angelic cop who was doing God’s work, no exaggeration, of course. The whole world was about to roll it’s eyes while a tragedy slipped under the veil of distraction (ie: race, sex, orientation, etc. division), and the usual Street Gang (South-Side Wall Street holmes) at Faux News would lead the charge. The blues is their business and business is good.
This time, it would be different. This time a video would emerge. This time, WE THE PEOPLE would see what happened in OUR name, despite the police rhetoric and attempts to paint a different story:
We can’t see the beginning altercation in the raw footage, though the witness was, in their personal space, moved enough to get out the camera phone and start filming. The raw film shows them with their camera lens moving across the chain-link fence that lined the crime scene. By the time they got the camera up to view, it’s just in time. Scott and Slager appear to be already in some kind of struggle and Scott either knocks something off of Slager’s uniform (as you can see it flying back) or it is the taser in question possibly being thrown at Slager. Scott begins to run, though he is, after all 50 and he looks tired and could easily be tackled by an officer in proper shape.
No matter what happened before, even if Scott was guilty of murder, an arresting officer has zero right to even draw his firearm on an unarmed man, let alone play Judge or even God. If you believe in the Constitution, than you let the Courts decide their fate. Your job as an officer is to subdue, not kill.
Instead, Slager draws his firearm, does not fire a warning shot, and instead fires 8 rounds without barely moving from the original spot. Enough hit Scott to fatally kill him.
As Scott lay dying, Slager handcuffs him (gee, why would he do that?), then appears to go back for one of the two black objects left at the scene (very probably the tazer) of the original struggle 20 feet away and appears to drop it by Scott’s side while the last moments of consciousness left him, which is extraordinarily deplorable to the point of sickening villany, especially as another officer walks up, witnessing what was Slager’s best chance to frame the incident to the story he was getting ready to tell. That is cold blood, and warrants a first-degree murder charge to at least be filed.
We will never know what happened between Scott and Slager that incited Scott getting shot in the back. Though it could be anything from a personal experience between the two to a random incident gone out of control. In any case, no drugs were reported found and there seemed to be nothing in any of the information that has leaked out over the last few days that the cop could muster in his defense of playing God.
Again, sound familiar?
Only this time, the Killer Cop was arrested for murder.
Not Just Another “Justifiable Homicide”
Why was it different this time?
For starters, Trayvon Martin, Michael Brown and Eric Garner brought the attention of one of America’s deepest and darkest secrets out into the open. That police act as judge, jury and executioner quite a bit in this country (a hell of a lot more than get executed by legal means). Even the corporate McPaper USA Today said last year:
“Nearly two times a week in the United States, a white police officer killed a black person during a seven-year period ending in 2012, according to the most recent accounts of justifiable homicide reported to the FBI.”
“Justifiable Homicide?” That’s a thing?
This is the pop-up definition for “homicide”:
So justifiable homicide literally means justifiable murder. Here I thought we were such a Christian nation that we could at least try to follow the 10 Commandments, you know, “Thou Shalt Not Kill”, though apparently recent modern theologians are now saying that was mistranslated and should be “Thou Shalt Not Murder”. Gee I sure hope they didn’t get anything else wrong!
The USA Today goes on to average the number of African-Americans murdered, I mean justifiably murdered by police at around 400 a year as of August of last year. I know if you watched the news, you know it happened a lot more frequently than you care to remember, though this sounds a whole lot worse than what we’ve been hearing and many of these have been swept under the rug.
So again, in this different time, with the public interest peaked and apparently combined with the media’s quest for ratings (under the profit motive) it brought the Nation’s attention to this ‘elephant in the room’.
So this time the issue was larger. The Scott case, that might otherwise have been another resisting arrest story, became New York Times material. The man who took the footage, at great risk, was immensely heroic in taking the footage, (and trust me, when you are filming cops doing an arrest, they look at you like you are burning an American flag, even when you are actually the one defending it, and the idea that the pointy end of the stick could be directed at you never leaves your mind or body). Filming, let alone coming forward with footage of cops committing a crime is in general is a terrifying prospect. Having footage of a cop committing a murder is unthinkable. Yet this unsung hero gave his footage to the family and they gave it to the New York Times. All in the name of Justice!
This turned a “justifiable homicide” by the government enforcement squad, aka the police, into just your plain old, run of the mill… MURDER.
Killer-Cops is the New Cop-Killer
Remember Ice T’s “Cop Killer”? Remember how the conservatives wanted to arrest him? Today Ice T is a cop on Law & Order SVU and has been for well over 10 years. Times sure have changed!
Never mind that Ice T and Body Count’s Cop Killer song was more about a fictional outlaw, you know, “I shot a man in Reno, just to watch him die”, and it was about the absurd injustice in the post-Rodney King era. Never mind the NWA song Fuck the Police either. No, let’s just get the lame President George HW Bush to call it out along with Tipper Gore, Dan Quayle and the rest of the Square police. That seemed to work… in the complete reverse.
When I was a kid, the vast majority of people that got shot by cops (that we knew of) were unrepentant bad guys on goofy TV crime-procedural-dramas. However since I grew up in LA, scary stories were never far away and even the D.A.R.E. officer once, after being asked the obvious kid question “did you kill anybody?” drifted into a flashback of his violent clash in South Central LA.
Yet we still turned to the lame good guy vs. bad guy cartoon fantasies. There the evil drug lord was always a genuine bad guy. Today, the cops seem to shoot people all the time on TV too. It’s called the News, and it seems to happen far too much for a reasonable human to believe that so many “bad guys” would just brutally attack cops, especially with their reputation for shooting first and asking questions later. I mean seriously! You would have to be living under a rock to not know that nervous cops have been unloading clips into unarmed men, who tend to (though not always) be born with extra pigment in their skin.
Yet the conservative fanatics on Fox News claimed it was just “street-thugs” and made heroes of those that stood up to street violence like it was a Dirty Harry movie or something! As in Furguson, videos and photos leaked out of what a “thug” Michael Brown really was, just as it did with Trayvon Martin. That was enough to convict both, including one underage, to death by cop or douchebag. Suddenly, conservatives were bending over backwards to pin medals on people they didn’t know anything about, over cases they never really understood, that violated the Constitutional right to due process that is afforded any citizen (then go on to whine about how the Constitution was being eroded by Obama, or Eric Holder or any other name they heard on the radio that day and whatever fake scandal that lives in their heads). I guess listening to braindead con-radio must be the easy way out. They managed to boil down most any violent, complicated incident into a brainless slurry you could consume with your coffee and cheer along as if it were an NFL Team: Team Anglo Warriors vs. Team Black Pirate Welfare Liberal Thugs. Can you guess which team they root for?
This isn’t Officer Benson from Law & Order SVU who does what she has to do take down sex criminals. No cop should kill any prisoner unless a life is threatened. Whatever happened to a warning shot? They even do that in the worst crappy TV shows (because only a coward guns down an unarmed man)! Though what’s far worse, what happened to not using your gun unless you are fired upon? From all the reports, it seems there are far too many cops who would use their guns as a can opener to stop the international invasion of creamed corn, and life seems extremely cheap to them.
Has that been the way our “officers of the peace” have always been and we are just now catching it on tape? Or have our cops become militarized by the excessive military hardware they are getting at surplus from the Armed Forces?
How about both!
The Homeland or Prison Industrial Complex
There is a huge connection between what conservatives call “justice” and what has become known as the Prison Industrial Complex. Building prisons, rounding people up, making money on their collect calls, selling tasers and law enforcement weapons, all a huge booming business. Even in supposedly Liberal California, the prison system costs more than the grade school, community college, all supporting occupational schools / programs and public University systems combined (that even includes the elite ones like UCLA, UCI, UCSD, etc.).
We jail more people in America both 1.) per capita and 2.) total population of criminals than even China (which has almost 5 times our population). America also seems to execute a great deal of its criminals before they can even get their right to due process. Remember, not everyone that is arrested is guilty. The idea that the justice system makes mistakes was an ideal of the Founding Fathers, like John Adams and Thomas Jefferson. They faced the similar torture used at the end of the film Braveheart for what they had done long before even declaring independence.
Is this what democracy is supposed to be about?
How many more American’s must we sacrifice before we wake up to the reality of what is going on?
Published on: Apr 8, 2015 @ 5:58
Update: Slager has been fired after his murder charge and Scott was apparently facing a low value bench warrant for outstanding child support payments. As his family has stated: It has also come out that both men were Coast Guard Veterans.