Look, this is a problem in our society. For some reason (and we can argue the reason), black men are getting killed by police. I’m a trauma surgeon. I work for the police all the time. The folks with whom I work are very professional and seem to want to do the right thing all the time. There are, somehow, these folks in the police force that are, for a lack of a better word, cowboys.
Officer Michael Slager had several days to tell his story. Here’s what he was saying through his lawyer on Monday –
Slager thinks he properly followed all procedures and policies before resorting to deadly force, lawyer David Aylor said in a statement.
“When confronted, Officer Slager reached for his Taser — as trained by the department — and then a struggle ensued,” Aylor said. “The driver tried to overpower Officer Slager in an effort to take his Taser.”
Seconds later, the report added, he radioed that the suspect wrested control of the device. Even with the Taser’s prongs deployed, the device can still be used as a stun gun to temporarily incapacitate someone.
Slager “felt threatened and reached for his department-issued firearm and fired his weapon,” his attorney added.
So, then the video comes out. He gets fired from the police force and indicted for murder. We need to fix this but we will only fix this problem when we stop the craziness and decide that shooting Americans is NOT acceptable.
Walter Scott was shot and killed by someone who was supposed to guard and protect us.
From Charles Blow:
This case has also refocused attention on the power of video evidence and is likely to redouble calls for the universal implementation of police body cameras (the video in this case came from a witness). What would have happened if video of this incident had not surfaced? Would the officer’s version of events have stood? How many such cases must there be where there is no video?
But I would argue that the issue we are facing in these cases is not one of equipment, or even policy, but culture.
I would submit that cameras would have an impact on policy and culture, but that a change in culture must be bigger than both. It must start with “good cops” no longer countenancing the behavior of “bad cops.” It will start with those good cops publicly and vociferously chastising and condemning their brethren when they are wrong. Their silence has never been — and is certainly no longer — suitable. We must hear from them, not necessarily from the rank-and-file but from those higher up the ladder.