Hey, That's Fucked-Up (Part 3): What It Takes to Get a Cop Charged With Murder

North Charleston, SC, Officer Michael T. Slager, white, is checking the pulse of Walter L. Scott, black, after Slager shot Scott five times while the unarmed Scott was running away from Slager.  In the video taken by a bystander, who is understandably hiding behind a fence and bushes until another cop arrives, after we see the shooting, Slager yells at the fallen Scott to put his hands behind his back so he can be cuffed. This moment here occurs after a second officer has come onto the scene and after Slager has picked up what is presumed to be a taser and dropped it next to Scott. This is so he can say that he shot Scott because the running man stole the taser from him. Scott has no pulse in this image. He was already dead by the time Slager checked, perhaps to make sure.

If there had been no video, Slager would no doubt be defended by police organizations and law-and-order conservatives who would tell us that we don't understand what cops have to deal with and we weren't there and Scott was not a perfect angel. If there had been no video, an investigation would have ended in no indictment, nothing, and protests would have happened with those same police and politicians and commentators saying that the protests were misguided and that we're doing harm to society by saying terrible things about terrible events and that the protesters are the real racists.

At the very least, Slager has been arrested for murder. We don't know yet if he'll be convicted. But we do know that it's possible to charge a cop for shooting unarmed black man. That much we finally know. We just need utterly perfect video in order to do it. That's not too high a bar, right?

By the way, Slager fired eight times at a man who wasn't an imminent threat to anyone.  He hit Scott five times. That means three bullets went somewhere else. We also know that there were several people around (there is another video, too). So, in this case, the only threat to the well-being of the citizens of North Charleston was a police officer.