Human Rights

Lawyer Nails Cop's Pathetic Excuse for Shooting Walter Scott in Murder Trial

There is no evidence that the officer's taser was ever in the victim's hands.

Photo Credit: YouTube / Collage by Alexandra Rosenmann

Former North Charleston, S.C. police officer Michael Slager testified in his murder trial this week. The 35-year-old ex-cop is being charged in the death of an unarmed black man, Walter Scott, whom he followed and gunned down after the two met at a routine traffic stop. He could face life imprisonment if convicted. 

The shooting occurred on April 4, 2015, and was captured on a cell phone video that was reviewed during his Slager's trial. 

"In my mind, at that time, people don't run from a broken taillight; there's always another reason," Slager said in his testimony.

Don't let big tech control what news you see. Get more stories like this in your inbox, every day.

Scott's parents concluded that their son may have been concerned about the back child-support payments he owed, leading Scott to flee. 

"That is not a reason alone to decide that someone who is running [poses] a deadly threat to you," Mo Ivory, a civil rights attorney and activist, told MSNBC the following day. 

"At that moment, he could have easily decided that, when Walter Scott was running, call for backup and wait for backup," Ivory continued. "But no, he made the decision to go after Walter Scott, so in his mind, he had already created a scenario that Walter Scott was a dangerous black man that he needed to go after."

Slager testified that he fired his taser at Scott three times, and when he was trying to subdue him, Scott wrestled the officer to the ground.

"I knew I was in trouble," Slager said. "At that time, I pulled my firearm and I pulled the trigger."

However, there is no evidence in the video that the taser was ever in Scott's hands.

"I viewed that tape over and over and over again. In my view there is absolutely no justification for that officer shooting this individual, none whatsoever," retired New Jersey police lieutenant Steven Rogers said, echoing Ivory's statement.  

"What if the man was just fearful of the police?" Rogers asked. "You don't go shooting people unless they're armed or are a threat to the officer or someone else."

Rogers believed the evidence coupled with Slager's testimony is contradictory and troubling. 

"Unless your life is in imminent danger, and I don't see it here, you're not going to use deadly force, and that officer's going to have to prove that he felt his life was in danger," Rogers said. "But what we see on that video would be troubling to any professional law enforcement officer I know." 

Even law enforcement personnel of the highest order often refuse to acknowledge the factor race plays in police brutality. 

"To say that 'My life was in danger,' just because this man, who was unarmed, was running away from me begs you to ask more questions," Ivory told Rogers.

"Please do not act like race is not a factor in so many of these police shootings and should not be discussed honestly," she said. 

Watch:

Alexandra Rosenmann is an AlterNet associate editor. Follow her @alexpreditor.