HISTORIC? OR UNNECESSARY?
There’s a big Associated Press story out today from reporters Bruce Smith and Meg Kinnard regarding the filing of federal charges against ex-cop Michael Slager.
Slager, of course, is the white former North Charleston, S.C. police officer who fired multiple shots into the back of Walter Scott, a black suspect who was fleeing arrest last April.
Scott succumbed to his wounds shortly thereafter …
As with another police shooting currently making national headlines, authorities initially attempted to justify Slager’s use of deadly force against Scott … unaware that the entire incident had been captured on video.
Prior to the release of the video, North Charleston police claimed Scott was gunned down by Slager because he posed a legitimate threat to the officer’s safety. Specifically they referenced a “scuffle” with Slager which resulted in Scott obtaining the officer’s taser weapon. Police also said Scott was fatally shot following a “foot pursuit” and that officers attempted cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) in an attempt to revive him.
The amateur video debunked most of those claims – clearly depicting Slager shooting Scott multiple times in the back, which we noted at the time represented “the unnecessary use of deadly force against a suspect.”
“Rather than attempting to provide medical assistance to Scott in the aftermath of the shooting, Slager handcuffed his victim and then stood off at a distance waiting for his backup to arrive,” we added. “The handcuffing may have been protocol in the aftermath of a shooting, but officers are taught to treat wounds.”
More to the point, officers are taught not to shoot at fleeing suspects unless they are armed or sought in connection with violent crimes.
Now the federal government is filing additional charges against him. According to Smith and Kinnard’s report, an unsealed indictment shows Slager facing federal civil rights, obstruction and weapons charges.
Not only that, attorneys for Scott are hailing the charges as “historic,” according to Kinnard …
— Meg Kinnard (@MegKinnardAP) May 11, 2016
We disagree. And we disagree with the filing of these charges.
Don’t get us wrong: We believe the federal government has a right to intervene on behalf of life, liberty and property in those instances in which local or state governments are actively denying justice. In fact we wrote just this week of a case in which such charges are being appropriately contemplated due to what we believe is an obvious miscarriage of justice at the local level.
But that’s not what is happening here. Nor is it happening in the case of Dylann Roof – the confessed perpetrator of the “Holy City Massacre,” last spring’s savage murder of nine black parishioners at the Mother Emanuel A.M.E. church.
In both of those cases, state authorities are pressing the appropriate charges – and the perpetrators stand to receive the appropriate punishments.
What else is there?
Well, in Roof’s case the U.S. Department of Justice (USDOJ) believed “a murder case alone would leave the racial component of the crime unaddressed.”
Again, federal authorities have a right to intervene – or work in concert with state and local authorities – but they should exercise such supervisory jurisdiction only in such cases in which the evidence clearly points to a miscarriage of justice.
Anything else strikes us as a waste of taxpayer time and resources in an effort to score politically-correct points …