Hat tip to The Weekly Sift
Michael Slager, a policeman in North Charleston, S.C., said he shot and killed 50-year-old Walter Scott because they were engaged in a violent altercation, and Scott grabbed for Slager’s Taser.
There would have been hardly any way to challenge that story if a brave soul named Feidin Santana hadn’t recorded the incident and come forward with the video.
The North Charleston Police Department did do the right thing, by filing murder charges against Slager, once they saw the video.
Unfortunately the public can’t count on somebody with a video camera being in the vicinity every time there is a fatal police shooting.
And more unfortunately still, it’s unclear whether there is a legal or constitutional right to videotape police officers in the course of their duty. Santana’s camera could very well have been confiscated and the record destroyed.
It would be nice if American police departments made a practice of video recording all police encounters with the public, but I suspect that recordings might have a tendency to be lost or destroyed in cases such as this.
I think there should be laws in every state upholding the right to make video recordings of police and other government employees when they are on duty and in public, subject to restrictions to keep the video photographer from physically getting in the way of police and others doing their jobs.
In Many States, Including South Carolina, the Right to Videotape Police Isn’t All That Clear by Daniel Denvir for The Atlantic. [Hat tip to Cop in the Hood]
Everything The Police Said About Walter Scott’s Death Before a Video Showed What Really Happened by Judd Legum for ThinkProgress.
Walter Scott Shooting Video Caught Police Propaganda Machine in Action by Andrew Jewell Jones for The Intercept.