Members of the National Center’s Project 21 black leadership network are speaking out about the shooting of an apparently unarmed black man during a foot chase after a traffic stop in North Charleston, South Carolina.
Caught on video by a witness and alleging showing the officer firing eight bullets at and killing Walter Scott, Michael Thomas Slager has since been fired from the North Charleston Police Department and is charged with Scott’s murder.
Project 21 member Nadra Enzi, a community policing activist in New Orleans, said:
The South Carolina police shooting involving now former North Charleston officer Michael Slager illustrated the unfortunate cold-bloodedness of some police officers.
Supporters of the police and anti-crime activists shouldn’t be timid in loudly demanding the severe punishment of officers who blatantly murder and then hide behind their badges to try to cover up their handiwork.
Legitimate outrage can be easily drowned out by the rogues’ gallery of predatory protesters, such as those who wrought havoc in the Michael Brown case. Conservative voices denouncing this crime can help dampen the racial flames fanned by radical protesters’ rhetoric.
Americans can also unite around this issue and use it to strengthen the frayed ties that bind us. Not doing so lends aid and comfort to professional cop-haters, career criminals and skeptics who use atrocities to justify and spread profound mistrust.
When an innocent man is unjustly killed, it should remind police supporters and skeptics alike that violent crime isn’t the exclusive province of callous citizens. A privately owned camera phone recorded the officer’s alleged crime and possible attempt to plant evidence.
When officers do this, society is less safe — especially the segment from whence this particular victim hailed.
Project 21 member Christopher Arps, a resident of the St. Louis area who was witness to the violence in Ferguson, Missouri after the death of Michael Brown and subsequent grand jury decision not to indict the officer involved in Brown’s death, added:
The video showing the tragic shooting of an unarmed African-American man in the back, who was fleeing from a police officer, has now convinced me that body cameras should be standard equipment for all law enforcement personnel.
Until the amateur cell phone video surfaced, the officer’s account of a life-and-death struggle between him and the victim over the officer’s Taser may have prevailed. Police body cameras safeguard everyone involved, and the time for their widespread use has come.
According to North Charleston Mayor Keith Summey, 101 body cameras are already on order for the city. Additionally, 150 more cameras were ordered in the wake of the shooting. There is also legislation currently under consideration in the state legislature to require that all members of South Carolina law enforcement to wear body cameras.
Project 21 member Stacy Swimp, a community activist in Michigan who is a native of South Carolina, said:
It seems that the officer not only murdered this man, but also tried to place an object by his body to justify killing him.
South Carolina has the death penalty. I believe this officer acted maliciously and then tried to cover up his evil deed.
He should be considered for the same death penalty he handed down, except in his case it should be decided upon and administered under the law.