Video Shows Shooting and Police Misconduct in South Carolina
South Carolina has a history of being lenient toward its police officers. Police have shot 209 suspects the past five years, and only “a few” police officers were accused of illegal shooting. None has ever been convicted of wrongdoing, but that may change very soon.
A shooting in North Charleston, South Carolina occurred on Saturday, April 4, 2015. The police officer is being charged with the murder of a young man who was unarmed at the time of the shooting. He could face a minimum of thirty years in prison or the death penalty could be imposed. The best piece of evidence in the case is that a nearby individual, whom the police officer did not realize was there, recorded the entire event. What makes this story particularly newsworthy is that the victim was black and the police officer is white. Both the FBI and the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division are participating in the investigation.
The shooting occurred at about 9:30 a.m. on Saturday. The police officer pulled over the victim for a broken taillight. From the police’s dash cam, we can see that the victim is at the wheel when the police officer asked him for his license and registration. However, the victim stated that he was in the process of buying the car, so he did not have either of these items. The police officer heads back to his squad car and the victim gets out of his car. The officer tells him to get back into the car, but the victim takes off running.
Later, the hidden video-capturer shows the police officer and the victim in close proximity. It appears that the victim got out of the officer’s grasp and begins to run off again. Instead of chasing after the victim, the officer takes out his gun and shoots eight times. Four bullets hit the victim in the back and one bullet hit his ear. The police officer claims that the victim took his Taser and ran away with it, which is why he began to shoot. However, in the video, it appears that the officer is placing the Taser next to the victim when he also cuffs him.
The police officer has not only been charged with murder, but he has also been removed from the police force. The victim’s family plans to use the video footage to initiate a civil lawsuit against the North Charleston police department and against the police officer personally. The family has expressed their sincere thanks for this stranger’s courage in turning in the video tape.
Reverend Al Sharpton is an American Baptist minister and civil rights activist. He has been intricately involved in voicing the need for reform following recent seemingly racially biased shootings and police brutality allegations virtually across the United States. One of his suggested policies is encouraging a national police force. He believes that racially motivated killings and violence would either be reduced or eliminated if the United States used a national police force.
The victim’s family in this case has asked that the Reverend keep his distance for fear that their loved one’s death would turn into a potentially violent political message. The family is particularly concerned with avoiding a situation like the one that occurred in Ferguson, Missouri—where protestors have turned violent following two racially motivating police officer shootings in the past several years. The family kept the funeral open to family members only and is attempting to keep politics out of their grieving process.