Officer Alex reflects on the consequences of Walter L. Scott’s death
“Michael T. Slager, COME ON DOWN!” the announcer cries at the annual banquet for the “A**hole of the Year Awards,” held April 1, 2016.
That’s the way I saw it in my dream at least, because that’s what this guy is.
There was a slap heard ’round the world as tens of thousands of cops slapped their foreheads in disbelief when video was released of the April 4 shooting of 50-year-old Walter L. Scott by 33-year-old North Charleston policeman Michael Slager.
We had just begun the media recovery from Ferguson as the “Hands Up/Don’t Shoot” mantra was dismissed as a falsehood (leaving the tragedy still a tragedy, of course) and the people making a profit from that sad machine had begun to disperse.Even those local to our area that were bound and determined to overlay the events of Ferguson as somehow relevant to Chattanooga had completely lost the steam that was only “activist”-born hot air…and now this happens. (Insert collective “sigh” here.)
It was the great state of Tennessee that clarified the “rule” of not shooting fleeing folk in the back (unless actively engaged in firing a gun while running away, something that can be done if you have arms, believe it or not) in the Supreme Court decision titled “Tennessee vs. Garner.” Thanks, Memphis.
In this case, Mr. Scott was pulled over for a broken tail light. It is surmised he believed the officer was about to place him under arrest for owing somewhere in the neighborhood of $18,000 in child support, and so he ran, but at that time, the only thing Officer Slager knew was that this dude had committed a traffic violation.
Even before the officer knew of the citizen’s video, the most he said was that they struggled over his Tazer, which also appeared false upon review. The important part, though, was those six magic words: What He Knew At The Time. In short? He shot a guy in the back eight times for a broken tail light offense.
I will admit that I’m as surprised as anyone at the swiftness with which he was punished by his superiors. Due process is a huge, if not the biggest part of what cops do. They don’t work at the speed of public opinion; they, unlike their criminal customers, have rules to go by, and not liking the process doesn’t mean they can or should circumvent it. In this case, however, Michael Slager was handled like heroin in a junkie’s needle: Abruptly and with immediate effect.
Am I decrying this for my brother officer? Nope. Because I truly don’t believe the swiftness was a response to public pressure so much as being a case of “it is what it is.” Even protestors are being relatively quiet about it, because he was dismissed and booked for murder before many folks were fully aware it had happened.
The righteous indignation displayed by those lacking impulse control (or reading comprehension) was lost here because the North Charleston police chief and his mayor did exactly what they would have wanted him to (I hope). Hell’s bells, even Al Sharpton said he’s happy. What?
Despite facts that finally came to light, many of you won’t agree that Officer Darren Wilson shouldn’t have been publicly executed after the shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, based on speculation and assumptions. The process had to be dragged out to do justice for both Brown and Wilson, and look what happened. “Facts” disproved “assumptions” (and “lies”). But now? No foot dragging necessary, just a very sad trial and a very unnecessary funeral, because there are no mysteries to plumb the depths of.
Cops hate no-win scenarios and this certainly counts as one for both sides. Walter L. Scott should still be alive and Michael T. Slager should still be drawing free air (instead of sitting without bond in a North Charleston jail cell), but instead we’re left trying to figure out how to not look grossly incompetent on one side and how to express mass indignation on the other despite all demands being met in advance of making demands.
Let me take a chance and just say that I’m sorry for what Officer Slager did, readers. He was handled professionally and quickly, though, and this mistake will be pored over for years and factored into the training of officers across this country (and oceans, too—make no mistake).
It’s not much for the Scott family, but it’s a solid first step.
When officer Alexander D. Teach is not patrolling our fair city on the heels of the criminal element, he spends his spare time volunteering for the Boehm Birth Defects Center.