There have been plenty of police shootings of unarmed men in this country, black or otherwise, that have legitimately been open to interpretation. There have been police shootings that, despite being horrific, left at least enough wiggle room in the imagination that it was worth it to keep an open mind — to allow for all the evidence to come out before reaching a conclusion. The shooting of Walter Scott wasn’t one of them. The deliberate killing of Walter Scott — a 50-year-old black man who had been pulled over for a busted tail light and who ran away — by a North Charleston, South Carolina police officer was unquestionably a violation of police procedure and undoubtedly cold-blooded in nature.
It was caught on video. All of it. The entire thing. Including the part where Scott — remember, an unarmed man — ran away and Officer Michael Slager drew his service weapon and fired five shots into his back. He shot a man running away in the back five times.
This is a case that’s about as open and shut as any you’ll ever see. To convict Michael Slager wouldn’t be an attack on good cops because Michael Slager is a living, breathing attack on good cops. He’s a fucking bad cop.
And yet, you’ll be surprised to learn if you haven’t been paying any attention at all over the years — and you won’t be surprised at all if you have — the evidence against Michael Slager apparently isn’t enough to warrant a conviction on either murder or even manslaughter charges. Just a little while ago, a South Carolina jury consisting of 12 white people and one black person sent a letter to the judge in the trial of Slager saying that they were hopelessly deadlocked. That means a mistrial — and that means that Slager will either delay or escape justice altogether if the judge’s demand that the jury go back and continue deliberating doesn’t bear fruit.
According to reports, the jury is being hamstrung by a lone holdout. If we’re talking a holdout on a conviction, all it takes is a single person among those jurors to look at that video and believe that, somehow, some fucking way, unarmed, running-in-the-other-direction Walter Scott made Michael Slager feel as if his life was being directly threatened. Which means that there may be a single person on that jury who believes exactly that.
If so, I’ll bet good money it isn’t the one black juror. And I can’t help but picture it being someone who watches black Americans protesting in the streets and wonders what they’re so pissed off about.
Course there’s the distinct possibility that it’s 11 voting to acquit and one voting to convict. You do the math there.
Chez Pazienza was the beating heart of The Daily Banter, sadly passing away on February 25, 2017. His voice remains ever present at the Banter, and his influence as powerful as ever.