Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Former Officer Slager Pleads Guilty

Former police officer Michael Slager, who shot and killed Walter Scott, an unarmed black man, in the back as he was running slowly away in North Charleston, South Carolina, pleaded guilty today to violating the slain man's civil rights.  Then Officer Slager was caught on a cell phone camera gunning down Walter Scott as he ran slowly away.  Thereafter, the video shows Slager walking over to the lifeless body and dropping his taser next to the motionless Scott before calling dispatch and reporting that Scott had wrestled with him for his taser causing Slager to fear for his life as justification for shooting the unarmed Scott in the back.

This incident created a national firestorm when it occurred representing one of the many instances in 2016 where unarmed black men were shot and killed by law enforcement officers across the United States.  The Corporate Justice Blog has reported on these many instances opining that this loss of human capital and the lawlessness exhibited by these law enforcement officers stymies confidence in U.S. law and order and contributes to the extremely difficult relationship that exists between African American communities and state and national law enforcement agencies.  In a recent article, Lord Forgive Me but He Tried to Kill Me: Proposing Solutions to the United States' Most Vexing Racial Challenges, I discuss this deep level of distrust held by black and brown communities toward law enforcement officers.  I propose significant and powerful reforms in both police training and police hiring in the article as well as suggest that deadly force law across the United States' be changed from a standard of "fear for life" to a standard of "preserving human life at all costs."

The New York Times reports:  "More than two years after a North Charleston, S.C., police officer fired eight rounds to the back of a fleeing and unarmed black motorist whose burst of gunfire was recorded on video, the officer stood in a federal courtroom on Tuesday to plead guilty to charges that he violated the slain man’s civil rights.  The plea by the officer, Michael T. Slager, assured a rare conviction of a law enforcement official for an on-duty killing, and it left him facing the possibility of life in prison for the April 2015 shooting of Walter L. Scott. Mr. Slager pleaded guilty to a single charge of willfully using excessive force to deprive Mr. Scott of his civil rights."


  1. I don't even know what to say to this. People like this guy make the job harder for every cop who is out there trying to do the right thing. I had to fight against this type of for ten years and it gets old and it gets really dangerous at times.

  2. I agree with George. It is hard enough being responsible for safety and security, but add the scrutiny that inherently follows a good officer's decision because of losers like him... There is a need for better screening of trainees and oversight of the department leadership. Too much emphasis on the system and not the human factor.

  3. Like both George and Brian mentioned, these types of officers make it so hard for all officers, even those who use deadly force in legitimate and appropriate situations. I would like to think that the type of officers such as Michael Slager are few and far between, but it seems as though stories like this are emerging frequently. I agree that the officers' behaviors in these situations are often a result of inadequate training, which is a problem that needs to be addressed. These types of situations could be avoided by educating the officers and training them to overcome any potential biases they have.

  4. This blog posting left me with an idealistic feeling of what possibly could be. However, it left me with some unanswered questions. How far does this standard of "preserving human life at all costs" extend? How does an officer "preserv[e] human life all costs" when they are truly faced with a situation where it is the officer's life or the suspects? And does this standard only extend only to black victims of police shootings, or does it extend to anybody in a helpless situation. I think I could be on board with this new standard if it extends to any life, including unborn human babies.