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North Charleston Police
Do you think that the North Charleston Police Department has taken appropriate steps towards reform a year after the Walter Scott shooting?

 
North Charleston Officials Praised, But Are Charges Part of A Conspiracy?
Published:
4/16/2015 3:32:21 PM


Dot Scott at NAACP Press Conference April 9. Photo: Tolbert Smalls, Jr.
 
By Barney Blakeney


North Charleston municipal and police officials are being praised for their immediate response to the video showing officer Michael Thomas Slager shooting Walter Scott numerous times in the back as Scott fled. Police charged Slager with murder. Initially the officer said Scott tried to tase him during a struggle which led to Slager’s use of deadly force. City officials initially repeated that story. Several respondents were asked if city officials’ reversal after the video surfaced continues the exploitation of the Black community.

North Charleston Mayor Keith Summey and Police Chief Eddie Driggers actions to charge Slager are being heralded as unique and almost unprecedented. Their response came upon reviewing the video that surfaced three days after Scott was killed. Initially Slager, who is white, said he felt threatened when he shot Scott, who is Black, as they struggled over Slager’s taser. The video shows Scott was shot as he ran away from Slager after being tased.

In the absence of the video, North Charleston police and city officials repeated Slager’s version of the incident.

That changed after the video was made public.

Some are saying North Charleston officials accomplished two things in charging Slager with murder - it diffused the wrath of angry Blacks outraged over another incident of police abuse and it left a lot of legal wiggle room for an officer accused of abuse in a community that never has charged a white police officer in the controversial death of a Black suspect. If tried, Slager could be convicted of the lesser charge of manslaughter.

Columbia civil rights activist Kevin Gray said he’s hard pressed to draw the conclusion that North Charleston officials conspired to exploit the Black community. It’s not unusual for authorities to make higher charges initially and later seek plea bargains on lesser charges, he said. The Black community should wait to see what charges ultimately are prosecuted by the solicitor and should demand the solicitor spells out that process.
Gray added he doesn’t think the majority community in Charleston has the stomach to call for the death penalty in the case. And, that might make it more difficult to get a conviction, he said. In recent years law enforcement officers around the state have been convicted for various offenses, Gray conceded, but that doesn’t make a conviction in the Scott case a slam dunk, he added.

Charleston Branch NAACP President Dot Scott said she also is unwilling to go so far as to say the murder charge was calculated, but city officials did act proactively and in an unprecedented fashion. Still, she too speculated that without the telltale video, charges might not have been brought against Slager. Charges never were brought against officers in past controversial incidents, she said.

Officers arriving on the scene after Scott was shot repeated Slager’s version of the incident and city officials before reviewing the evidence also repeated the narrative. However, the discovery of the video meant a coverup would not work, she said.

A local civil rights activist who asked not to be named said North Charleston police had to charge Slager after the video surfaced. Whether the Black community will be exploited depends on whether it allows itself to be exploited, he said.

History tells us the establishment will try to exploit the Black community and that a white police officer who kills a Black suspect won’t be convicted of murder. The Black community must be prepared for that outcome, he said. Scott’s death is an opportunity to change the dynamics that were put in place by Jim Crow laws and attitudes, he said.
 

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