After 8 Shots in North Charleston, Michael Slager Becomes an Officer Scorned

Apr 13, 2015 · 655 comments
DrT (Scotch Plains, NJ)
Everyone agrees this is a sad case. Justice has been set in motion.
What can we do to prevent this from happening in the future?
1. More intense training and practice on when to use deadly force is uppermost in my mind. The police are necessary in our society and they deserve respect and admiration for the risks they take to keep law and order. To shoot someone is an awesome responsibility and clear parameters are needed.
2. The public needs to comply with requests when stopped. Many of the terrible outcomes seem to be complicated by resistance or aggression by the victims.
My position is that both police and public need to change for a solution to this problem.
Archduke Franz Ferdinand (Austria-este)
Has any reporter ever gone to anyone's old neighborhood and been told the guy was a psychotic killer?

Loner, withdrawn, difficulty forming interpersonal relationships? I'd be concerned, except that describes me and about half the people I know.
Frank McGar (Egypt)
So here we go again...MSM chomping at the bit to put their agenda out there, without presenting the entire story to the public. Slager will not be convicted of murder. Why? Because in the dashboard cam video from the cop car he was totally professional with the decedent before he fled (which shows it wasn't premeditated), and it looks like he was in a struggle with Scott, during which it appears Scott got the upper hand because taser wires appear to be hanging from Slager's body..not the other way around . The viral video only shows the aftermath of the struggle- Slager has been tazed by the suspect and at that point he has the right to use deadly force, even if the suspect is fleeing and his back is turned. Here's a quote from the eyewitness who filmed the video:

“As I was walking to work, I saw a scuffle ensue between two men (who have since been identified as Officer Michael Slager and Walter Scott) in a grassy, open area. After observing the two men struggle on the ground and hearing the sound of a Taser gun, I began filming the altercation with my cell phone."
John Stewart (New York, NY)
I say we give beat cops only billy-clubs for awhile (ala 1860s). Let the SWAT team handle the "big boy weapons." See how things change.
Air Marshal of Bloviana (Over the Fruited Plain)
Yes, and only in heavy democrat, big city, big union jurisdictions with liberal, preferably gay, judges.
Tom W (Massachusetts)
I believe equal time and space should be given to the facts of Mr. Scott's life. If not, then he's been marginalized and diminished yet again. And that is not fair.
88yearsyoung (West Coast)
Far too often it is the blue collar guys who barely made it through High School who join the police force.

These males face limited job opportunities, due to their lack of skills and education.

With unemployment or a life of low wages looking at them in the face; they decide to take the police exam.

After a year or so, the same uneducated drifters are handed guns.

Mr. Scott had no history of violent behavior, the officer must pay the price for taking a human life. We need much better police officers in this Nation.
Yeti (NYC)
Like the Kamikaze pilots, today's cops are a disposable category. One shooting and they have to go to jail or out of town. In a society that makes heroes out of killed burglars and fugitives, those applying to this job may think twice. Truth is being twisted whenever they perform their job. There are more lucrative jobs out there. By the way, those who accuse him of planting the taser near the body don't mention that he picked it up and holstered it towards the end of the video. Why? Are they blind? It's hard to believe so.
Rob C (Melbourne)
The USA has widespread, systemic and deep-rooted issues. This casual, unnecesary murder and what it truly represents is a sad and frightening example. When will it change? Probably never. The cynic in me says you are headed to either complete totalitarianism or outright chaos. No doubt taking the rest of the world with you.
Slater was a shy, awkward kid who came from a broken home and must have been heavily affected by his parents' divorce. Poor guy. It is no wonder he shot a man in the back 8 times.

Seriously NYT, we do not need to be given a backstory on this guy. Why would you even think that you needed to try to humanize him? What an awfully strange article.
Doro (Chester, NY)
This is typical of the "second wave" reporting that always follows in sensational cases like this one, where the more or less straightforward reportage of the first wave has been perceived (in some posh room somewhere) to constitute a threat to official power. The paradigm was Abu Ghraib, but we've domesticated it.

It includes two invariable narratives.

First, there's the narrative of the killer (snapshot of shyly smiling, open-faced blond athlete attached) as seen through a Vaselined lens--a patriot, loyal, industrious and true, who has been through some rough times but who turned his life around the day he put on that uniform.

It's surely enough to make our hearts ache for a fine fellow whose only flaw was that one little moment when he gunned down a scary black man. And maybe a few other little moments involving threats and Tasers, but never mind.

Meanwhile, there's that other narrative, the one involving the dead.

Artfully darkened skin: artfully darkened biography. Did he sell "loosies"? Did he have a criminal record? Was he receiving welfare benefits? were his parents? Did a sealed juvenile record somehow get leaked to a sympathetic reporter? Was it an authentic sealed juvenile record, or did it turn out to have been one of those cunning fabrications designed to go viral?

No matter. By the time the second wave is through with the corpse, most Americans want to throw a parade for his killer.

Which is kind of the point: the awful, undemocratic, perverted point.
Dilligad24 (Nj)
What is the matter with some of you commenters??? No matter how many times Mr. Scott was arrested in the past, you don't deserve to get shot eight times in the back. Officer Slater ignored his training in the heat of the moment, when it matters the most.
Air Marshal of Bloviana (Over the Fruited Plain)
Since it has yet to be said, please allow me to introduce "The Big Picture'.
Imagine a society where because you are of a certain group and in some politically correct circles, the topic of wholesale restitution for crimes committed in remote antiquity, you feel empowered to resist and walk away, with impunity, from a police officer who is calmly performing his or her duties. No way will will you ever not risk suffering the consequences which Mr. Scott brought on himself. There will be no 'last time'...ever.
Randall Johnson (Seattle)
Perhaps Mr. Scott ran because he was afraid the cop was going to shoot him to death.
Gene (Ms)
So it's OK to kill people who don't do what the cops want?
That's just sick.
Laura (Florida)
You should never risk suffering these consequences for walking away from a police officer. You should risk them if you are running away from a police officer when he has close to 95% certainty that you are doing so to hurt or kill someone.
Phoenix (California)
The collective authors' attempt to engender great sympathy for Mr. Slager has failed utterly. Instead it is little more than a puff piece to celebrate the many facets of Slager's early life--later scarred by the trauma of divorce [cue violins]. Slager is "scared to death," his mother conveys to us, as Mr. Scott's body is cold and mouldering. That IS death.

Rarely have I read such a disturbing piece "humanizing" an officer who killed an unarmed citizen in cold blood and then who further attempted to manipulate the crime scene to exculpate himself. Is there no shame by these authors in devoting an entire piece to personalizing the killer and ignoring the entire life of the deceased? Where is the in-depth piece on Mr. Scott? Where is there a sympathetic accounting of that man's life and family and accomplishments? As long as this biased piece stands without the counter-balance of an article humanizing and chronicling Mr. Scott's life, this stands as grievously flawed journalism. This is a shocking attempt to deflect blame from a killer and to bury the dead without due recognition. These authors have done a great disservice to their own reputations as well as that of journalistic reporting.
ChrisH (Adirondacks)
I am against the death penalty - including for Slager.

But will SC forswear the same death penalty for all others caught red-handed for murder?
SSC (Cambridge, MA)
I hope the $18K in back child support gets paid out of the law suit against the NCPD.
michjas (Phoenix)
From an evidentiary standpoint, the video is not of great importance. The coroner's report would reveal pretty much everything you see in the video. The public impact of the video, however, is huge. Once you view the video, you don't care what else happened. But what else happened matters, and will be presented to the jury. If the jury decides this was manslaughter, there will likely be outrage. Jurors know more than the public, but the public often thinks it knows more than the jurors.
David Taylor (norcal)
What? Jurors know less than the public. What they are told is carefully circumscribed by the legal system. Anyone present at the trial will know everything the jury hears as well as all the information that was made public that the jury was not permitted to consider. Your statement sounds like an attempt to confuse and obfuscate something that is so plainly obvious for anyone - juror or not - to see.
Eric (NYC)
8 shots in the back while running away. Manslaughter???? I guess there is a simple rationalization by the U.S courts for the most obvious evil deed, especially when the victim is often black & the accused is a law enforcement officer.
Laura (Florida)
The public knows a lot of things that aren't so. That's why what jurors are told is carefully circumscribed by the legal system. The decision they make needs to be based on fact, not on speculation and not on emotionally wrenching demagoguery.

And this is in place to protect every defendant, whether that's a police officer or a civilian, including black folks.
Anne Russell (Wilmington NC)
Watching the second video in which Scott's car was pulled by Slager, it appeared to me that Officer Slager was handling himself entirely propertly until Scott bolted and ran after being told to remain in the car. And though Scott was portrayed as a good father, turns out he has repeatedly failed to pay child support. What were his children to do? Eat the soles of their shoes for sustenance, and live in tents rather than proper housing? I wish Slager had only wounded Scott in the legs so that he could not run further, but I no longer feel any sympathy for Scott, a repeat offender. Rather than whine, time for the black community to educate its members to respect authority and obey orders from police.
David Taylor (norcal)
I trust your view is a minority in NC or this country is really off the rails. The notion that execution is a suitable response to a suspect running is really beyond the pale. Was the officer on a crusade to execute everyone who was not making child support payments? I don't get it!
Broke and Broken (Andes, NY)
Yes, Anne, maybe Slagel was trying to wound but missed. Those deadbeat dads got what they desoive. And let's educate those blacks, living in those tents.

MY my my oh my.
sgillen1036 (chicago, IL)
Really!! So now not paying child support and not obeying a cop are capital crimes deserving of a no trial verdict of the death penalty with the death penalty to be carried out immediately by the cop on the scene with no chance for appeal. We didn't even treat Charles Manson like that. You have a strange view of the law in America
Harriet (Mt. Kisco, New York)
There are so many good cops. I respect and admire those a lot. However, I do think there are some who go into this profession because they feel that they want to have control over people to see them cower and fear them. Usually, they have been underdogs and outcasts in their youth. Mr. Slager's past seems to re-enforce this. Perhaps, a little more time should be spent examining an applicant's mental health and less spent on teaching them to aim for "center mass".
slangpdx (portland oregon)
Anyone who has not seen the movie LA Confidential should rent it. It won 3 Acadamy Awards, one for best screenplay. There are two hero cops who flush out a corrupt department. One of the hero cops shoots a black suspect in cold blood, plants a "drop gun" (they even have a term for it that is still used) on the dead perp and uses the dead mans' fingers to pull the trigger to place two bullets in a door post to stage evidence he was shot at. The other cop shoots two unarmed black men fleeing from a raid. For this he goes from being unpopular to getting the nickname "Shotgun Ed". I don't recall any criticism at the time for this movie glorifying criminal police activity. Maybe it got a pass because this was supposedly the 1950s and this "stuff" doesn't happen anymore, or because this was a movie it was assumed to be fiction.

Also, the dashboard video of Slagger's police vehicle does not show a "broken" taillight on the Mercedes.
Ronski1965 (NJ)
This is a bad shoot by a cop who was obviously out of control. No need to beat a dead horse, he has betrayed his badge and now must face justice. Lets just get bodycams and end these extrajudicial killings.

There are clesrly some bad actors in blue. This case illustrated that fact,sadly, all too well. Mr . Scott broke the law and this officer decided to be judge,jury and executioner. Now he will stand before the law he swore to uphold and face the judgement he denied his victim.
Randall Johnson (Seattle)
Learn to use the video capability on your cell phone -- for justice and for self defense.
Brian (Three Rivers, CA)
This article reads like an obituary for the man who shot the gun. He survived, and he belongs in jail. Meanwhile, the man who died is reduced to a few half-sentences printed in the margin. That's symbolic of the core of the problem. What happened to the rallying cry "Black Lives Matter," and why is the white murderer given so much more sympathy here?
Steven learn (Earth)
I am White, and as much as "Black lives Matter" is very true, the slogan will change nothing.

"Body-camera all police officers now" should be the demand in every district.

Get your elected officials to start body-cameras on all officers now.
RajS (CA)
It totally looks and feels like what Michael Slager did was par for the course at that police department. Were it not for that pesky video, everyone (except the Scott family and their friends) would have been happy to continue business as usual. We should all note that North Charleston has a police department that is rotten to the core, and the US justice department should definitely subject them to an audit similar to that faced by the Ferguson police department.
luigi906 (Easton, PA)
If I had to defend this man I would put police chiefs and police union on trial. They are the ones who have manipulated that environment.
Mary (Atlanta, GA)
Bottom line - officer appears to have made a huge mistake, perhaps reacting out of anger to something said, guy getting out of car after being told not to, etc. Doesn't matter, you cannot shot someone for fleeing his car after being pulled over for a traffic stop short of a warran out on them for a violent crime. Or even then?

But we need to stop reacting to the blips of the moment and let the justice system work it's process. This police officer appears to have gone 'postal,' but this is certainly an outlier and the system arrested and charged the police officer immediately. So now it's time to let the process take over. Period.

And I don't want to hear about the black cop that shot the white man either - let justice takes its course.
one percenter (ct)
Great well thought out comment-tip it happens to your child. Is this 1962?
Kay Johnson (Colorado)
Where is the actual training?? Training is about keeping your impulses in check, not shooting somebody whose car you have sitting there. Do we really need to tell the police that this is not working? for anybody? And then for everyone to just fiddle around while the guy dies? That scenario said everything about the culture in their dept. It looked routine to let Mr. Scott be face-down and handcuffed with no assistance! They werent even worked up about it.

Every mother loves her kid. We have to have some people at the top in these police departments who find people who can mediate in a neighborhood and be a part of things, not use the neighbors for target practice. Enough is enough.
Veronica Halley (Minneapolis)
Here is a question for the NRA lovers among you who believe that Slager was in the wrong: If the young Mr. Santana had a concealed carry permit and observed what he concluded was an unjustified police shooting of an unarmed, fleeing, possible suspect, would he have been within his rights to challenge Slager, as P.O. Slager was clearly enough in the wrong to warrant his immediate dismissal from the police force?

After all, isn't that what the NRA keeps advocating it wants? A well armed and prepared citizenry that can stand up for truth, freedom and the American way?
Broke and Broken (Andes, NY)
Yo!!! excellent point! And as I recall, the last time police talked seriously about the need for gun control in America was round about when Huey Newton and the Panther Party was shooting back. After they assassinated, jailed, and otherwise wiped the floor with the Panthers using drug laws and RICO as an excuse, eh, not so much on the ontrolcay ungay -
Merrow (California)
All my Facebook "friends" who plaster their pages with tributes to fallen cops have been totally silent on this incident. How can you glorify that segment of the police who are unable to control their angry impulses when someone doesn't immediately do "as ordered." He wasn't in "fear for his life" he was in fear of not being able to demonstrate his petty authority at will.
Doris (Indianapolis, IN)
If Mr. Scott was your brother, son, father or lover, would someone still justify shooting him in the back because he is fleeing from the scene? I read some comments here suggesting that he should have not run, but whatever the reason for Mr. Scott to flee, no decent police office can justify this deadly action.
Air Marshal of Bloviana (Over the Fruited Plain)
Since it has yet to be said, please allow me to introduce "The Big Picture'.
Imagine a society where because you are of a certain group and in some politically correct circles, the topic of wholesale restitution for crimes committed in remote antiquity, you feel empowered to resist and walk away, with impunity, from a police officer who is calmly performing his or her duties. No way will will you ever not risk suffering the consequences which Mr. Scott brought on himself. There will be no 'last time'...ever.
Citizen (Seattle)
This is tragic for both Slager and Scott. Each made a mistaken and fateful decision in moment of stress.

The root cause for Scott fleeing and perhaps fighting may have been due to some other bad choice he'd made. It could be that he had time to thoughtfully decide on that precursor. But during the traffic stop he didn't have that time and was almost certainly reacting irrationally to emotions, fear of consequences, stress, and eventually adrenaline.

The root cause for Slager shooting is less clear, perhaps due to the nature of police training and protocols or to processes for selecting officers. But there doesn't seem to be much to indicate he was evil, racist, or an abuser of police power before this and seems to have been a reasonably good officer. Training may be such that once firearms start to be used the intent is to eliminate any threat, which is generally equivalent to trying to kill.

Things went wrong in Slager at the point where he'd used the Taser. It's hard to say what happened between him and Scott at that point, but does seem likely that flight or fight instincts came into play leading to the gun shots, when it would have been better to have let Scott run.

Few of us can say we've always made perfect decisions at moments of stress. And many of those we've made have been reversible unlike these.

Beyond the personal issues it does seem that police protocols and training need to change.
Ed (Old Field, NY)
Police demand 100% compliance b/c they assume 100% malevolence until proved otherwise. I think Slager was thinking (actually not thinking): this fellow will run a spell, choose his moment to turn around, then rush forward & attack me—that’s why he won’t stop; maybe he’ll pull a weapon, or maybe wrestle & shoot me with my own gun—another “hero cop”; get back in his car & escape. But to non-police, nothing could be more natural than panic and to flee when one is in danger. Police have to understand that.
Max (Jersey)
By ramping up the police arsenal of weapons, America has transmorgraphied these public services into an internal army. Accordingly, their operations attract not those whose goal is to police but rather those who want access to the most lethal technologies. One can not live surrounded by such weapons without the irresistable psychological pressure to employ them.
DougE33 (Washington, DC)
" The video shows Mr. Slager dropping something beside Mr. Scott’s body. Most civil rights activists who watched the video believe the object was a Taser that the officer said Mr. Scott had grabbed. "

It is not only " most civil rights activist " who believe that Slager was attempting to plant evidence and stage the scene to support his lie, its all fair minded people who have seen the video ! Anybody who says that Slager wasn't trying to do just that is lying to themselves and will not hesitate to let Slager get away with murder !
mary (charlestonsouth)
Thank you you said what I wanted to say
Don Hulbert (New York)
Reading the comments reminds me again that we in the U.S. seem to have little tolerance for nuances. We must demonize someone, I assume, because the reality is so upsetting. While I believe that the officer was clearly in the wrong and should answer in a court of law, that there is a pattern of abuse in the confrontations between law enforcement and the communities they are supposedly protecting, and share the grief and anger over the senseless shooting of Walter Scott, that doesn't make the officer a thoroughly evil human being.

I point my finger at the culture we have created. The very thing we do in casting anyone as a saint or a sinner, worthy or unworthy of life is the mindset that has led to the rise in violence and prejudice that bedevils our country. So while it may be easier to adopt an all or nothing mindset, I feel we must begin to create communities where all of our concerns can be addressed. That's much more difficult.
Tim Schilling (Hammond, IN)
What's truly worrisome, if not downright scary, is his initial comments to a supervising policeman. Describing the adrenalin rush as if to someone who could empathize. It makes one wonder if there's not some ultimate test to the club, killing a man to feel the rush. I want police who are truly remorseful when a life is taken. Both of these disgusting want to be humans are taking this in a manner usually expected from sociopaths.
Ajab (Tustin, CA)
The unquestionable use of deadly force by State agents is the 3rd-rail of police union politics. I find it impossible to believe that the police union in this case will sit idly by and allow the precedent that State agents acting in their official capacity and not for personal gain can have their judgment called into question. It would be the end of police autonomy in America.

Regardless of the merits of the specifics in this case, the police union sacrificing Officer Slager as a scapegoat would have monumental implications for the future of policing in America.
Tim Schilling (Hammond, IN)
Yeah, and probably to the benefit of everyone else. I'd always thought we were an idealistic society. Ronald Reagan took care of that. If we can't have a society that requires less policing (a growing divide makes that unlikely) at least let's aim for one not so obviously tyrannical towards the lower classes (can't think of any case similar to this where the upper 10% are involved.)
blueberryintomatosoup (Houston, TX)
This officer not only killed an unarmed man but he lied about what was happening as it happened, and then falsified the police report. Thanks to cell phone cameras, the myth of the infallibility of law enforcement officers has been exposed as false. That is what has monumental implications. Now there is finally a realization of what communities of color have known all along. All those "isolated incidents" are, in reality, a pattern that the majority community has refused to see.
Jim Mitchell (Seattle)
Gandhi said, "Hate the sin, love the sinner."

That goes for both Slager and Scott. We have to forgive Slager for his transgression, but he should have thought more deeply before shooting a fleeing man, indicating that he considered himself judge, jury and executioner in an Old Testament style which our entire police state has become a manisfestation of.
esp (Illinois)
scripture also says "thou shalt not kill".
Dennis (NYC)
No, at least in the case of the "Commandment," it says, "Thou shalt not murder."
esp (Illinois)
I think you need to reread your Bible. Exodus 20 :13 clearly says Thou shall not kill. This is the King James Version.
rkijno (Indiana)
The fact that they are victimizing and in a way justifying the officers actions, because he was a "divorce child" is baffling. Just because you might have had a rough childhood, does not give you the right to murder an innocent man.
TSE (California)
Before running back to grab the object he then throws near the victim's body, the officer looks left immediately after firing his weapon. That seemed like a quick, instinctive glance by Slager to see if anybody witnessed what he just did. He also checks Scott's neck pulse a minute or two after firing the shots, which seemed like an attempt to confirm that the one person Slager thought was the only witness to the crime was safely dead.

Additional evidence that Slager knew he had just acted criminally in killing Mr. Scott.
Air Marshal of Bloviana (Over the Fruited Plain)
Police officers are trained to instinctively scan after shooting. Failure to do so in training would result in immediate correction.
Julio (NYC)
Sorry, when people are young they may naively believe that being a Police man or woman is to serve and protect. However, after they become part of the force I do not believe for a second that this is part of their inner circle culture. In fact I always sense a culture of power over civilians, an advantage of some sorts that does not go along the ideals written on the side of their cars. I always felt that if those were their ideals, why do they need to splatter them on the cars? Maybe because they do not follow them. I grew up in a dictatorship and I never trusted the police or the military. Here, the police, while more controlled because of more checks and balances show many of the same attitudes towards civilians that I experienced in a non-democratic time elsewhere. There is an arrogance that comes from their power that is sickening. Slager showed us what this arrogance can amount to. We need more education of the police force TOP DOWN, more jail for police abuse and more filters to avoid recruiting people that may be problematic in the future.
Cee (NYC)
There are approximately 1,000 officers in NYC that have 10 or more complaints of excessive force, including one with 51 complaints.

Will any of these guys be fired?

So far, the discussion in NYC is to add more police and to increase "resisting arrest" to a felony.

It seems to me that getting rid of these over aggressive police will not only result in salary and lawsuit settlements but also send a message that police brutality will not be tolerated.
KJ (Portland)
He grew up in Mt. Laurel? The city named for the Supreme Court case about zoning out low income people and people of color. He grew up in a white suburb as many, many police do, totally isolated from other ethnic groups, especially Black people. He tasered a Black man on his doorstep because he can't distinguish between a tall one and a short one? The coward shot a man in the back over a broken taillight? No, that is raw aggression. It is like we live in 1890…when most police were KKK undercover. Wake up people, all of you. Condolences to the Scott family.
Tess Harding (The New York Globe)
“Just a nice kid, you know,” said Nancy Thomas, another former neighbor. “He was a little shy,” she added.

One thing Slager wasn't shy about: putting 8 bullets in another human being.
Whitey Right (Ok)
Slagel only hit Scott with four shots. If it wasn't for president Obama making us white guys all so angry, probably Slagel would have let Scott off light and just shot four times and hit him twice. But, here we had this president, who we know is a Manchurian candidate right, I mean even our former Vice President Dick Cheney says so, doing whatever he pleases even though we elected a Republican Congress and Senate, so this is obviously largely to blame on Obama. Also, Hillary is to blame because she didn't come out in favor of white police in Ferguson. Demoralizing Slagel and other police like him will only cause them to act out.
Strong (Philadelphia)
Shame on the New York Times for dedicating a full article to this murderer and mentioning the victim, Mr. Scott, as only a footnote in the 7th paragraph of the article! #shameful #amerikkka
tony (portland, maine)
This is really all levels.
It's about having a chunk of metal that shoots a easily.... that in the instant of rage live s are changed forever.
Guns provide a very short fuse when the holder is angry.
That's why guns are used in WAR..... That's why this happening around us is becoming war.
Stella Katz (Chicago, IL)
OMG - I just watched the youtube film - it is unbelievable - that this officer should run after a man for a traffic stop, shoot him in the back 8 times as he is running away and then handcuffs him !! Sorry, I majored in law enforcement, got my bachelors, became a cop, became a prison guard and there was never any type of behavior like this. The cops today are way out of line. This man needs to be found guilty and given capital punishment - and not one with a needle, but with a gun in the back just like he did to this poor man. May the victim's family find peace.
Chris (Arizona)
She's never seen the video? She'd rather be in denial about her being son being cold blooded racist murderer.
Tammy (Canada)
For some reason, I keep thinking that he has done this before. He's killed before and not been caught. That idea is plaguing my mind.
I'd be interested in his home life. Did he show signs of violence, as so many cops do, towards his wife and stepchildren?
Juliette MacMullen (California)
Something must be done now Mr. President. You said " no longer endemic ". Think again. "EPIDEMIC". You have a huge problem on your hands and address it. Don't dribble back court. Please Mr. President do something now to overhaul this socially accepted protocol of hunting down black men.
one percenter (ct)
Not only this but the mass incarceration of Black teens. and I am white-conservative. But not blind.
RS (Philly)
After the "hands up, don't shoot" fiasco, I will wait until all the facts come out.

Also, why are we assuming that Slager killed Scott because of his race?
Frank (St. Louis)
Yes, just because the video shows officer Slagel shooting eight times at the back of the retreating Scott, let's not forget that it may have been tampered with by the fellow who shot the video, who is of the same race as the victim, right, RS, Let's wait for the facts to come out, because this is just a video that shows the policeman shooting his gun at the retreating target, and we hear eight shots, but Scott only has four wounds, maybe Slagel was just trying to scare him, and missed four times. Those four 'missed shots' were 'warning shots' gone wrong. Also, Scott is black, maybe he would have been shot if he was white. Good point, how did we miss that!
Broke and Broken (Andes, NY)
Yes. He took aim and fired. Eight shots. Four hit. So he's not that good a shot. Small consolation, that. Would he have figured he could get away with it if Scott was white? Wearing a suit and tie? Driving a Black Merc.?
ML (Princeton, N.J.)
I'm disappointed by the photo and headline in this piece. As a mother I am compassionate for Ms. Sharpe, but it is not news that a mother mourns when her son is in jail. I didn't see photos of the weeping mother of the black man who shot police officers in Ferguson. Are only white mothers to be pitied? Are we supposed to feel that Mr. Slager could not be guilty if his mother loves him?
Mr Slager shot an innocent unarmed man in the back 8 times, and planted evidence to cover up his crime. He is a violent killer, a coward and a liar. An obviously posed photo of his mother praying does change that and is not news.
John (Monroe, NJ)
Police use to be part of the community they worked at. They ate, went to church, their children participated in local sports with other parents. Today most police live hours away and have no sense of community. The approach to law enforcement needs to be changed. More community police. More community involvement.
Andre (New York)
I often defend the police when certain cases happen because I know they have a dangerous job. This incident is different. This was broad daylight - so there was no need to wonder "is he hiding a weapon?". In some cases - with a dangerous weapon wielding suspect - to minimize risk to officers and the general public - you might have to even shoot someone in the back. This is not one. It seems obvious in the daylight he wasn't a real danger. That's not a good enough reason to shoot. Call back up and direct the other officers to where he is running to. If he gets away then use the info you have and get an arrest warrant. You can't shoot him because you are lazy.
kat (New England)
When I was growing up decades ago, the police were respected because they deserved respect. What the heck happened that turned them into a bunch of criminal, murderous thugs? And God help any family that calls for help with a mentally ill family member; they are as good as signing that person's death warrant.

I'm trying to imagine any circumstances now under which I'd call the police. None come to mind.
JJ (Bangor, ME)
I was hesitant bringing up the mentally ill part, but you are absolutely right. So many reports now where the police simply solve the problem by killing the patient instead of getting him help. And the person who got burglarized and then tasered by that cop! Pretty much shows us that the police view us, the public, as fair game with an always open season.
Air Marshal of Bloviana (Over the Fruited Plain)
I'm sure they and the criminal element you serve appreciate such self reliance.
Tracy McQueen (Newark DE)
Mrs. Shay's comment, "I see him as a child of divorce," is an insult to all the well-adjusted, resilient and honorable people who've parents have divorced. I think she's someone who had the mike in front of her mouth just a little too long.
CW (Prague)
Totally agree.
Joie deVivre (NYC)
The silence of good cops about internal corruption nationwide is deafening.
Ajab (Tustin, CA)
It's silent because in a void, no one can hear you scream. Heck, there's no one screaming to begin with.
MIMA (heartsny)
If Slager was scared to death, you can imagine what Walter Scott felt...and then death itself. Kind of an ironic statement for Slager's mother to make.
Elaine (New York, NY)
This article gives us detailed insights into the motivations of the perpetrator of this crime. It serves to humanize him and let us know that situations are complex; certainly nobody would have ever expected him to end up where he is now.

Why is that same courtesy not being extended to the actual victim of the crime and his family? This reminds me of the NYTimes articles on gang rapes, when the impact to the accused rapists was the focus, rather than the impact to the victims.
Rose (Brabant)
I almost feel sorry for Mr. Slager. He grew up in an environment where it was/is ok to abuse black Americans. It's the norm. All of a sudden he is confronted with behaviour which is not acceptable anymore, also with the help of today's vide evidence. He and countless Americans have to learn that the bad old days are over.
All men are equal.( ought to be! )
Broke and Broken (Andes, NY)
Don't worry Rose, the Aryan Nation will sidle right up to him in the Big House and make him their hero.
Matt Guest (Washington, D. C.)
How can he possibly be unaware? Even now? That makes him seem an even more disturbing figure. He might be scared to death, and it is natural to feel for his mother and other family members, but he *is* alive. He will also probably receive excellent legal representation. And he'll need every bit of it to avoid being convicted of murder. Absent a video clip, he likely would never have been charged with anything. Officer Slager may feel that he is being singled out, made an example of. He's right, but all evidence strongly suggests he deserves his current reality.
Charlie (NJ)
I believe deeply that excessive force has been ingrained in many police departments. And more recently, thanks to hand held cameras, we are even seeing deadly excessive force as is clearly the case here. But I don't buy the conclusion Slager "planted" the taser to cover up his alibi. In fact, after being involved in what he just did, I don't think he would have cooked up that alibi and then hurriedly planted the taser to support it while his mind had to be reeling over what transpired during the last 2 minutes. I think he simply went back to retrieve it after handcuffing Scott as one would have done had his other weapon dropped to the ground.

And one more thing. While Walter Scott didn't deserve to die lets get some more complete reporting before we start hearing about what a "mostly" nice guy he was. 10 arrests for "mostly" minor offenses. What does that mean? And why did he run? Was the Mercedes he was driving stolen in addition to him having a warrant out?
Railroadhomer (Inyourbackyard)
So 'Charlie'... You're in favor of impromptu street executions by police of suspects. Ok, let's try that out for a while in your city.
quilty (ARC)
What has changed is science and technology - forensic methods of determining the trajectory of bullets, DNA testing of convicted persons, now widespread cameras in the hands of the average person. Research on the impact of extreme detention, deprivation, denial of access to food and restrooms, and repeated vehement demands for confessions, confessions that are coerced and false.

What has changed is trust in the police. What has not changed is the police. Their primary goal is to project their own authority over those whom they are supposed to serve and protect. Their primary goal is to serve and protect themselves and each other.

Hand-held cameras and social media are revealing too many of the police of the United States to be the authoritarian brutalizers equal to the brutal authoritarian governmental officials of north Africa and west Asia. Those of us untouched directly by violent due to having the proper skin color and living in the right neighborhoods can no longer dismiss the claims of those who are victims of police violence.

The magic get-out-of-jail-free phrase "I was afraid for my life" has lost its glamor.
one percenter (ct)
Well written.
Rob C (Melbourne Australia)
Been reading and hearing a lot about this, in Australia. Also just read about the other man who was killed "accidently" by law enforcement in Tulsa. Don't get me wrong, Australia has plenty of issues, but ours seem minor to the never ending stream of disturbing events in the U.S.
Ajab (Tustin, CA)
The US population is 10x greater than Australia. Simple logic dictates that there will be 10x as many disturbing events, ceteris paribus.
Rob C (Melbourne Australia)
@ Ajab, In 2013 the USA had approx 14000 murders (FBI stats) while AUS had approx 400 murders (ABS) Your "simple logic" doesn't really add up. The USA has systemic, wide-sweeping and deep rooted issues. The casual, unnecesary murder of this man is a sad example.
Ben (New Jersey)
Of course he is scared to death to be in jail. Prison will be even worse. As a policeman he will be more hated by his fellow inmates than even a child molester. The guards probably won't cut him much slack either. He will probably have to serve his whole sentence in ad-seg (solitary confinement) just for his own protection.
Kim (NYC)
The recent audiotapes are pretty disgusting. It shows how routine these executions are. Slager even manages a me-no-worried laugh. I'm sorry for his mother but these shootings usually affect more than the two people involved. His victims' family is also suffering. Scott's mother has no son to worry about. He's dead.
jas2200 (Carlsbad, CA)
Are we supposed to feel sorry for Slager because his actions were caught on camera? Most police officers follow the law and do their duty. Many never fire their weapons in the line of duty. But we do have major problems with policing in this country. Police sometimes lie in their reports and even on the witness stand. Unfortunately, the good cops often cover for the bad ones. If this incident had not been recorded, Slager would have gotten away with it by falsifying his report, and his actions may well have been covered up by other officers. Cameras help, but even when events are recorded, prosecutors cover for police officers by making sure they are not indicted. Until bad officers are weeded out and prosecuted where appropriate, we will continue to have a big problem.
JXG (Space)
What I find objectionable in the video is that Mr. Slager handcuffed a dying man. The second policeman, another black man, was indifferent as well. Police officers, I believe, become emotionally detached after witnessing many disturbing events when performing the duties required for the job. This is the sad reality.

Mr. Slager was very professional when he stopped Mr. Scott. What triggered the wrong response was Mr. Scott second attempt at running away. One should never run away from a barking dog. This triggers a natural instinct to chase after what is causing distress.

Mr. Scott made the wrong decision. So did Mr. Slager. Mr. Scott's ordeal is over. Mr. Slager is going to suffer much worse. I truly feel sorry for him. May not everyone abandon him.
Doris (Indianapolis, IN)
Mr. Scott is not a dog, Mr. Slager is a trained policeman, he should know better how to deal with this kind of situation.
DR (New England)
I wonder how sorry you would feel for him if that was your family member that he murdered.
Mark (TeXas)
How many white men have convicted for murdering black men in the history of South Carolina? I am betting none. And I am betting it will remain none. Somethings don't change. At the trial the accused will be the victim and the victim will be the bad guy, watch.
Ajab (Tustin, CA)
I am sure somewhere down the line a white man was convicted of murdering a black man in South Carolina. The relevant question is: how many police officers in the USA have ever been convicted of murdering anyone? That's a number that has to approach zero. And I agree, there will be no murder conviction in this case unless it's a plea-bargain to involuntary manslaughter or some lesser charge.
lenny-t (vermont)
I wondered how long it would take before the archetypal article about Michael Slager was printed about how he: was an altar boy/very quiet/always polite/always said hi to his neighbors/helped with chores/friendly/always wanted to be a cop.

Every cop I’ve ever met had a dark side Michael Slager is no different.
Railroadhomer (Inyourbackyard)
Have we as a society set the bar too low for aspiring cops ?
Warmingsmorming (NY)
It looks like from the video that officers Slager is a cold blooded killer. The officer under our current system Is still to be presumed innocent until he is convicted by a jury of his peers. This is the good part of our judicial system and we should do everything in our power to preserve it. I think it's worth mentioning that the police are the enforcement arm of our federal state and local governments. The thing I don't understand about the left is they want bigger and bigger government with more control over our lives. Outlawing large sodas , forcing bakers to bake cakes that violate one own religios convictions , forcing people to buy health care against their will, and raising taxes on cigarettes so high that it created a black market where someone could make a buck selling loose cigarettes and loose their life when the police are sent to enforce the law . I think the left in this country need to make up their collective minds. Which is it , do we want a free society where we are largely left to govern our own behavior or do we want a large government that is involved in every aspect of our personal lives? Let's remember the police are sent to enforce the laws our government creates. We are the government. How many are sitting in jail right now for using illegal drugs, or not paying their taxes , or for selling loose cigarettes ?
Chantel (Birmingham)
So, we are to blame the Left for outlawing cigarettes? That is what led to Mr. Scott being murdered? The police are only trying to help enforce the cigarette tax and that is why Scott was killed for running away from feared child support charges and being tickled by a taser. Goodness.
JoseChicago (Chicago)
Your commas are placed in the wrong place. Police are peace officers, not law enf.
Warmingsmorming (NY)
Thanks, for the grammar lessons. You can call the police whatever you want. Try doing something illegal and then refuse to be arrested for not obeying some dumb law and see what happens.
Cowboy (Wichita)
It's way past time for serious police reform and education; let's stop pretending that racism isn't a problem in society AND in police depts.
We need and value police protection and that's why we need to make policing better.
James (NY)
Can we assume positive intent on the part of Mr. Slager? Could his actions have been driven by deep concern for the public safety or some other altruistic sixth sense? Unfortunately we cannot, video does not lie like people can and will. More likely, anger coupled with some inflated sense of entitlement and power derived from the daily blue uniform, badge and gun routine resulted in the ruthless cold blooded murder of a person who should still be here on this earth enjoying the rest of his life with family and friends.

As we have seen too frequently as of late, Mr. Slager is not unique. There are a great many others like him lurking in small and large police departments throughout our country - a truly scary thought for ALL Americans.

At this point we clearly need a national solution to avert future seen or unseen tragedies like the latest in North Charleston. Our elected national leaders need to finally take a united stand on something and work together with each other and the Justice Department on something that is vital to everyone in our country. The odds are against this actually happening - but sometime dreams do come true!
David (London)
I, too, think it's wrong to shoot someone without justifiable cause. Trawling the internet, I can find several cases of Whites shooting Blacks, Blacks shooting Blacks, and Hispanics shooting Whites. I deplore the way these terrible incidents are used to inflame race relations. They seem to reveal much more problems of training, supervision, and discipline in police forces.

Here in the (imperfect) UK, we also have police shootings (not as often as in the US and not as often as gangs shooting and stabbing innocent people, though). We do have a national inspectorate of police to ensure that there are adequate standards in each regional force. May I suggest that each state establish a state inspectorate to keep local police forces up to scratch. I think that this would help more than simply calling the police racists.
Does this man not have a right to a defence? Can an employer just wash its hands of an employee?
Midtown2015 (NY)
People say we live in a race and color blind society but hardly. If you are a non white, you can be shot randomly, never know when. Now I dress up nicely even when going grocery shopping etc instead of in shorts or sweat pants, just so some random cop does not mistake me for a homeless and shoot me. If you are a non white, you know the fear psychosis and that is something a white person never has to go through

No amount of humanising. Will remove the fact this man is a cold blooded killer. He needs to hang.
jzu (Cincinnati, OH)
Thanks for putting a human face Officer Slager. More and more I am convinced that the police force systematically trains warriors instead of servants. Men are not born cruel, men become cruel if systematically indoctrinated and persuaded of the dangers that every citizen may pose.
There must be an end to the stupid high speed pursuits. People flee for different reasons. And there are many smarter ways to apprehend a fellow citizen (Note: The police calls them "targets" - coincident?) that with siren blasting, gun wielding representatives of the government.
A (Bangkok)
Reading this, I'm trying to get into the mind of Slager to see what led to this insane response.

It is not easily brushed off as racist since Slager had black co-officers, one of whom was second on the scene and seemed to protect Slager.

There was no great trauma in his life to provide a trigger to violence.

Could it be the "kill 'em" video gaming that goes on among socially inept white males when they are alone?
podmanic (wilmington, de)
In a country that lives so close to the gun and considers it a common household item and birthright, it is not surprising when guns are used so quickly by anyone. There is barely minimal social or political constraint.
Midtown2015 (NY)
This man is a killer.
No amount of trying to humanise him can't silence that fact.

A cold blooded killer.
And in our warped, twisted justice system, cops are modern day James Bonds, licensed to kill our own citizens.

People say we are now a color blind society, race blind society, and so on.
May be may be not.

But what is true is that if you are a white, you are not going to be shot randomly, like a duck in a pond. I.e you are allowed to live. As a non white, every time a cop passes by me, I am on alert. As a highly successful I am not not afraid of a lot of things, but i am, of cops now. I also dress up nicely even for going to grocery shopping etc just so that they don't mistake me for some homeless and start shooting. Such is the fear psychosis cops are creating in non white people which white people can never understand or sympathise with.
Susan (Piedmont, CA)
The advice we're commonly giving minority citizens on how to handle police interactions these days is, "don't run, keep your hands where they are visible, be polite, follow orders." The best summary seems to be, "remember this officer is looking for an excuse to kill you." So Mr. Scott should not have run from Officer Slager.

All this advice is very sensible. But what kind of a society are we living in, when anyone must assume that every police officer is looking for an excuse to kill him?

Don't comfort yourself with the idea that this is only a problem for blacks or other minorities, either. This kind of attitude has a tendency to spread. How long is it before everyone, in all contacts with the police, is better off assuming that the officer is looking for an excuse to kill him?

Body cameras and dashboard cameras will help. (Notice that there actually was a dashboard camera in Officer Slager's patrol car.) But there are plenty of ways to cook this evidence too. What is really needed is a complete overhaul of police training and supervision.
DAN (Washington)
The main problem with police is that they are drawn from the human race.
CPW1 (Cincinnati)
This story about the small town boy from a broken home working for the small local police department and just helping his fellow citizens doesn't work. The city of North Charleston has over 300 police officers. In my opinion this makes it a real police department for a city of over 100,000 residents. Not a Barney Fife department. The citizens have every right to expect their law enforcement officers and other city employees to be professionally trained and managed so that they serve their community honestly and effectively. If any of the armed employees are either encouraged to break the law or are identified as candidates who are not emotionally capable of performing their duties the management of that department is responsible for making sure the residents are not at risk of being harmed.

Bottom line this article's attempt to paint this officer as just a small town boy doesn't work and is irrelevant.
Southern Boy (Spring Hill, TN)
After reading this article, what I find most puzzling about the officer's formative childhood and adolescent years were spent in New Jersey, well above the Mason Dixon Line.
Deering (NJ)
There's a reason NJ was once known as the most Southern Northern state--for the same reasons rich plantation owners would send their sons to Princeton. And the KKK had a strong presence for many years. Rest assured racism isn't unknown here.
Elizabeth (West palm beach)
Slager is "scared to death?" What a choice of words, considering what happened to Scott.
jonboy2 (Austin,Tx.)
If N. Charleston's jail is anything like the one in the city where I live, I'm not at all surprised that he'd run. Taken in, handcuffed in the back of a car with no seat, he'd be strip searched and booked into a jail that allows no visitors except by video conference call. He knows that his plans for the immediate future will be gone, an extra expense added to one his family can't afford and doesn't want, and he might lose his job due to the unscheduled absence. So he might well decide to try and run, to avoid the indignity and expense of what an arrest means these days.
I don't know why the cop thought it was OK for him to shoot rather than chase and collar Mr. Scott, but he certainly isn't the first policeman to do so; so Mr. Scott took a calculated risk which he lost. And once he did decide to shoot, Mr. Slager was well within what police departments around the country advocate as correct procedure. That is, "Shoot for body mass, keep shooting until suspect is no longer a threat, secure the suspect." What that translated to was: shoot to kill, keep shooting until he quits moving, then handcuff him, a dying man.
Rather than focus on what a "monster" Mr. Slager may or may not have been, I think Americans should be questioning standard operating procedure of our police departments. It's not a pretty picture.
Mr. Robin P Little (Conway, SC)

The press sure is getting a lot of mileage out of this case of gross police misconduct. Whatever happened within Mr. Slager on the day he killed Mr. Scott is not something even he is aware of, if we believe his mother, who spoke to him while he was in jail. He should be scared to death because his old life is over. His police union knows police officers can't just go around shooting suspects to death. It doesn't take a bunch of geniuses to figure this out.

Mr. Slager is not somebody who should be a police officer, if that isn't obvious already. I hope he does some serious jail time after getting a fair trial. He doesn't know who he is and needs plenty of time to ponder this riddle.

Meanwhile, the black-white morality play keeps getting written by the predominantly Northern liberal press. Can we give this story a rest, please? What if Mr. Scott had been white? Would the press being making such a big fuss about this case? I doubt it. This could have happened anywhere in the U.S., and actually, if you look at how many police officers have killed people in the past 10 years in the U.S. while supposedly arresting them, it has happened quite often.
Ross Nesbitt (Fort Collins Colorado)
Police Tape Catches Michael Slager Laughing At ‘Adrenaline Rush’ He Got After Killing Walter Scott (AUDIO)
Daniel (Washington)
At some point, using "Stand Your Ground" laws, a jury is going to acquit a citizen for shooting first when a policeman approaches. When a citizen says, "I shot the policeman because I was afraid for my life," who is going to doubt that person?
Ajab (Tustin, CA)
Wouldn't bet on it. Anyone who kills a police officer is eligible for life in prison or the death penalty where applicable. That defendant will most likely plead guilty to a lesser charge to avoid trial. You'll never get your test case.
Jo (Atherton)
I think the whole problem is that Police Officers believe they are above the law. They believe that they can get away with not following the rules while everyone else is terrified not to make the smallest mistake that will get them in trouble. This goes for anything: from murder to small traffic violations. Why is it fair for police officers to speed, not stop at the intersection for three full seconds, or use a blinker? While we're here analyzing our every move in fear?
The law enforcement system is extremely flawed and this needs to be changed. Too many lives have been taken and not enough consequences have been given. Isn't crazy how instead of feeling safe when we see police officers, we feel fear?
Andre (Noble)
Dollars to donuts this guy has Aspergers.
Tracey Walker (Bloomington, IN)
He shot a man in the back! The man was unarmed, I have no compassion for the man, I don't care about his past. I do feel for his family, they did not pull the trigger. "Protect and Serve" not in this case. A gun and a badge does not put you above the enforcement must be held to a higher standard.
Tony E. (Rochester, NY)
The scariest fact to come out of this case is that but for Steve Jobs and his iPhone, this crime, and many like it, would go unpunished.

Even now folks are afraid to come forward for fear of the power the police and legal system can bring to bear on a simple citizen. No wonder many departments are aggressive about citizens recording police activities.

One wonders how often injustice has been served by the acceptance of unsupported testimony from a blue uniform. Nothing has changed the justice system for African Americans more that Steve Jobs' iPhone.
jubilee133 (Woodstock, New York)
Bad judgment by the officer, and poor supervision by his immediate superiors. The actions, or the non-actions, of the arriving officers at the shooting scene, one of them black, display the lack of supervisory control and absent command responsibility.

The criminal charges will be presented, and the wrongful death civil suit will follow.

However, in the liberal drive to demonize law enforcement (once it was the conservatives for Ruby Ridge, Waco, etc.) , there is no recognition of the very good policing which occurs daily in our society, in rural America to urban ghettos.

In this instant of liberal hypocrisy, there are no companion conversations of how Mr. Scott's ex-wife and daughters fared while apparently receiving little or no child support to the sum of $18,000.00, no investigation of a long arrest record, no interview with the neighbor who "sold" the car to Mr. Scott which had no registration or insurance, and little mention of the open arrest warrants.

The best scenario would have been for the officer to keep his weapon holstered and wait for backup.

An even better scenario would have been for Mr. Scott to remain in his car. Even if Mr. Scott had been arrested, both would now be alive.

To the inevitable postings self-righteously proclaiming that Mr. Scott's faults or his own bad judgment did not merit his being "executed", you are right.

Now, go thank a good cop today who patrols places in which you never visit or shop, and whose residents you do not know.
James Ross (Oklahoma City)
"To the inevitable postings self-righteously proclaiming that Mr. Scott's faults or his own bad judgment did not merit his being "executed", you are right.

I am not sure why you need to include that people are somehow self-righteous for making this claim, especially since you acknowledge they are correct. Stating a fact is somehow "self-righteous?" What is self-righteous is how you flippantly seem to know how all "liberals" feel about this issue.
Patrick Stevens (Mn)
We arrive at a moral lesson for all of us. Not all criminals are necessarily bad or evil, but sometimes circumstance, or a single wrong choice, leads us to do horrible things. This young officer made a terrible decision that took the life of an man for no good reason. The whole incident is a tragedy taught to us by flawed people put in difficult circumstances.

The law says that his officer committed murder. He should be punished. But take care for your condemnations. Who was it that said, "There, but for the grace of God, go I."?
Eric (New York City)
"I think he's scared to death" : poor choice of words...

My two boys are white and blond. I've taught them to be extremely cautious if they were to interact with an armed policeman in the US. Do not argue, do not resist, hands where one can see them, very slow movements, don't says the word "bomb" or "terrorist". American cops are obviously insanely trigger-happy.
I taught my boys about Amadou Diallo, how he was shot 41 times by four policemen, and how 19 bullets hit him (by the way, do the math and be happy nobody else was hurt).

We also spend a lot of time in Europe, where we feel extremely safe, from "bad guys" and from cops.

There's something very sick in America right now.
kateemo (London, UK)
And most cops here don't carry guns at all. I've lived away from the US for six years now and I feel like it's all gone crazy in that time.
Robert (New York, NY)
Apropos a police officer, sworn to uphold the law -- "to serve and protect -- murdering an unarmed man, handcuffing the man as he dies, planting false inculpatory evidence next to the murdered man's body, and lying about it all in the usually-validated expectation that his lies would be accepted:

"You see, Mr. Gits, most people never have to face the fact: The right time 'n' the right place, they're capable of -- ANYTHING." -- John Huston as Noah Cross, "Chinatown" (1974)
Justice Holmes (Charleston)
He also didn't seem very afraid when he tried to cover up what he did. As I said a mother's love.

By the way, what a strange picture. It smacks a little bit of bias.
Mr Wonderful (Boston)
This sad, shocking event feels like another aspect of great inequality we're seeing in the US. Here, the 1% - police - have power, where citizens of color, the 99% have none.
Justice Holmes (Charleston)
A mother's love, I am sure she really wants to beleive that. But he sure didn't look scared on that video. Additionally is he was so scared he should never have been allowed to be a police officer. Shooting a man for a broken tail light is outrageous.
DfD (New Hampshire)
Scorned, as he must be. Although Officer Slager's mother still loves him and we can all understand her pain, the fact is that being "scared to death" is better than being shot to death.
craig geary (redlands, fl)
Not only did Officer Slager wrongfully shoot the unarmed, fleeing Mr. Scott, he planted evidence and then took two minutes and forty-three seconds to even take his pulse, let alone provide CPR.
Don (New York)
If the crime had not been accidentally caught on video, the same people who are shocked and demanding our sympathy would be standing shoulder to shoulder, slowly sneaking up on the theory that Mr. Scott was responsible and caused his death by attacking the officer and running away.
It is unfortunate that our society does not realize that once you destroy the trust of your people, you can never get it back.
Or perhaps this is the way the rulers of American society want it.
88yearsyoung (West Coast)
I am an almost 90 years old Caucasian male, and I can say this was an execution.

May the victim rest in peace and may the "officer (and I use the word loosely)
rot in jail.
B.S. (West Sacramento, CA)
Mr. Slager is most definitely terrified. Being in jail is a terrifying experience for someone who has never been a prisoner before. Because he is a cop, he's probably being kept in isolation for his own safety, away from other inmates. That means all he has is himself and his own thoughts to keep him company. There is very little else to do aside from reading books if the jail has them but think about one's fate. He must know that it's likely that he's likely to spend the majority of the remainder of his life in prison. That has to be an even more terrifying and overwhelming prospect.
Confounded (No Place In Particular)
Mr. Slager did not shoot to incapacitate Mr. Scott. He shot to kill him. The first shot that hit Mr. Scott would have been enough to stop him. Police training needs to change.
shipley130 (US)
The guy was not unarmed. He took the cop's taser and shot the cop in the leg. Pictures of the scene afterword show the cop with his pantleg rolled up during an onscene debriefing.
m. (SouthEast US)
I congratulate NC Mayor who I believe has said that more videos will go to video the police. And the NYT for publishing an in-depth article about this policeman.

I am horrified by this video, and by the indifference of the police to a dying man. There is no excuse for their individual actions.

However, we should see that they happen in a larger context.
They happen in a society where the next guy or girl may be "packing heat". I, a white woman living in decent neighborhood that has never seen a gun being shot, am afraid of scuffles that can rapidly escalate into violent incidents. I honked at an aggressive driver today and immediately reminded myself of the road rage incident(s!!!) involving guns. (Note to self: do not honk again!).

Now I imagine the life of policemen and policewomen in the US. For the most part, I do believe they want to contribute to their country. But every time they go into a conflict, every time there is a possibility of entering the unknown, they face a situation in which even psychopathic lunatics may have guns. In which there may be a random bullet. This is a constant permanent threat faced daily by this service people.

An armed society is a society on edge. A society where police forces may encounter armed conflict everyday. How can police forces not be immediately desensitivized over this?
Doodle (Fort Myers)
I have to wonder, why did these police officers scare so easily, of unarmed suspects?
Al (Arlington, VA)
Shooting a fleeing, unarmed suspect is highly questionable. Attempting to plant evidence is unforgivable. I'm sure Slager is a fundamentally good and complex person (like most of us). However, he made a series of bad decisions and has to bd held to account.
C. Christensen (Los Angeles)
How tragic our country is afflicted with the disease of political correctness! The hypocrisy and rush to judgement of Americans is truly sickening! Remember "innocent until proven guilty" people! It's my hope that this brave officer is completely exhonerated and then sues this police department for every penny he can! The man he was pursuing DID NOT obey him when told to do so! Why does the black community have a desperate need to make heroes out of criminals? What a sad time we truly live in!
JJ (Bangor, ME)
Did you not see the video? Even if he had just shot a dog running away from him like that he should go to prison for animal cruelty.

This is a human being we are talking about! Running away from the police is not a capital offense. You know how many times I ran from the police when I was riding my bike through the city park where bicycles were prohibited, because it was the shortest way to school and one where I did not have to risk crossing busy streets and getting run over by a car? I would be a human sieve by now, had I encountered such cops back when I was growing up.

The police does not hold absolute power over life and death. Making excuses like that for needlessly killing another human being is sickening.
TerryReport com (Lost in the wilds of Maryland)
I would like to post a thought, a fact, that would shock most people. The fact that it would, however, shows how deep our deference toward police officers goes in America.

Walter Scott, if he had a gun with him, would have been perfectly within his rights to shoot at the officer, once the officer had fired one or two shots at him, completely unjustified. However, had Mr. Scott shot and killed the officer, even with the video evidence, he would have been convicted of murder and perhaps sent to death row.

The most basic human right is self defense. The fact that a person shooting is a police officer does not take away this human right. Yet, in our society, the preference for believing that what the police say is truth is so deep, claiming self defense in response to a police officer choosing to kill someone is almost an impossible task. If nothing else, the later arriving officers on the scene would make it their business to finish the job, given the opportunity.

Is this the price of civilization, to surrender one of our most basic human rights for public order? If it is, it should be in the context of a police community that is highly restrained, cautious to the point of endangering themselves, in the exercise of maximum force. It should be in the context where all law abiding citizens believe they can trust the police without question. We are not at that point, not even close.
Pablo (Chiang Mai Thailand)
Child support was the reason he was stopped, blame the ex-wife of the deceased, or blame the system for issuing a warrant and putting a man in jail for back child support, debtors prison is all it is.
Mark O (London)
What Slager did was stupid and despicable beyond belief, but the Times is correct in providing us with an unemotional and balanced account of the guy's background. Otherwise, basic news reports will become hysterical exercises in character assassination, which is not what one expects of a quality paper like the Times.
nostone (brooklyn)
He hasn't been tried yet that doesn't stop people from calling for the death penalty.
The same people who protest when a innocent civilian is killed.
There can be no justification for the action this cop took.
I think we can assume he is guilty but not in the first degree because it was not premeditated.
At most they will get him for murder in the second degree.
I believe no one gets the death sentence especial if it wasn't committed during the commission of a crime like robbing a bank.
Dennis (NYC)
“The ‘reasonableness’ of a particular use of force must be judged from
the perspective of a reasonable officer on the scene, rather than with the 20/20 vision of hindsight.” -Graham v. Connor, 490 U.S. 386 (1989)

In 2013, NYC police shot a total of 248 bullets in 81 incidents, of which only two (excluding suicide-related shootings) involved unauthorized use.

The almost literally rabid comments of NY Times "lefties" notwithstanding, a sober assessment of what most of us can know as of now looks like this: The this was likely a very bad shoot. That's about it. The rest is nonsense: that cop shops should be able to weed out each and every bad actor aforethought; that the Times has no business painting a "humanizing" portrait of the cop; that the cop must be a racist, bloodthirsty, sadistic killer; and so on.The developing narrative is maybe not so different from the Germanwings pilot: Those with 20/20 "restrospectiscopic" vision insist that the bad actor's propensity to do wrong was manifest for all or (at least key individuals) to see, and that the bad act could and should have been prevented. This self-righteous and intellectually dishonest line of thought ignores so many realities that I'll not try to list them, except to note that there are a great many cops (and commercial pilots) and probable bad acts such as this very rarely happen.
maximus (texas)
Did you actually watch the video? This is a wonderful demonstration of the irrationality on the right. It's right there in living color. Right in front of you and still manage to deny reality.
robin (los angeles)
"They lived in Goose Creek, a suburb, where the children, a boy and a girl, played on a trampoline in the backyard when they were not being home-schooled by their mother, Jamie."
Homeschooling equals shifty loners with a dearth of the social skills that allow us to endure and thrive in life. They often have no friends. It's giving unaccredited parents a lot of responsibility that affects the rest of us. Parents who homeschool have their own control issues, empty-nest issues, have the "who am I if not a parent" issues. It's Siddhartha gone horribly, horribly wrong. It's failure of the parents to allow the kids to launch. Andrea Yates's kids were also homeschooled. Homeschoolers seem to think they can save their children from drugs, or the pole, or haters, but it seems to me they're saving themselves from their own desperate loneliness. Homeschooling is weird. Just saying.
Laughingdragon (California)
Apparently some people commenting here don't know the meaning of "cold blood".
What is here is an inexplicable tale. Evil people are usually evil all along. When you have someone who is being characterized as decent by a lot of people and who still did something seriously wrong then there are unexplained factors.
I remember working in a prison where a guard one day assaulted a prisoner in maximum security. He was angry and he used something to cut off the prisoner's pig tail. The guard was placed in my library for processing and someone explained to me that he couldn't work in prisons anymore.
In the two examples given in the paper the officer made misjudgements while in pursuit and under stress. It would have been better if he had lost his job the first time, it would have saved two lives.
Jeff (Chicago)
I'm a 49 year old white man with no police problems ever. This one video sickens me and changes my perspective on all of the other controversial shootings of minorities. This cannot be isolated. Major changes are required.

If not for the video Slager would not have been charged and maybe this doesn't even make the news. And the family of Walter Scott would live with thought that he violently attacked a police officer and was rightfully shot.
Thierry Cartier (Ile de la Cite)
"He had been arrested about 10 times, mostly for minor offenses like failure to pay child support or to show up for court hearings."

These are not "minor offenses". This shows an obvious bias that influences all nytimes reporting on these kinds of stories. And why are the "mostly minor offenses" highlighted and not the major offenses. Also there is the disturbing focus on race. No nonblack victims of alleged police violence are ever reported. Are there none to report or do they not fit the racial narrative on which these stories are based. The nytimes does not seem to realize that honest reporting serves both the alleged victim and the alleged murderer. May simple justice prevail and allow all the victims of this and other such horrible crimes to walk forward in the bright light of the truth.

In the interim a simple, obvious solution solution is to disarm most police officers that deal with the public, nondeadly force is sufficient. Only under special circumstances, carefully considered with community input (especially so in aggrieved minority communities), should specially trained and armed officers be called upon and then only with the approval of those higher ups who now are the first to grab the microphone to pontificate and spread the blame to anyone and everyone but themselves.
Derrick Robertson (New Jersey)
Am I supposed to shed a tear Slager? Ain't gonna happen.
Iniodu (Lagos)
A well-trained and qualified police officer would have handled the situation differently. There is something fundamentally wrong about the POLICE recruitment process.
michjas (Phoenix)
Scott ran away from Slager and led him on a wild goose chase. When Slager caught him, they got into a fight. Slager apparently used his Taser to no avail. Up to that point, Scott had done everything wrong and Slager had done everything right. When Scott got away, another wild goose chase should have followed. Instead Slager, totally without justification, repeatedly shot. At that point, I would think Slager was acting emotionally rather than rationally. After the chase, the fight, and the failed Taser, Slager could reasonably have not been thinking straight. After the shooting, he repeatedly curses, suggesting that he knows he screwed up. That's the way I see it, and I don't think that makes Slager an evil guy.
Iniodu (Lagos)
True, he wasn't thinking straight. And I think he's not a bad guy.
agarre (Dallas)
Funny that the article notes that he liked playing cops and robbers because when you look at that video that's exactly what it looks like - like Slager is a little boy finally getting to live out his fantasy of taking down a bad guy. Unfortunately, though, his gun wasn't a toy and his victim wasn't a scary monster but a real live human being.

In this country we need to stop fetishizing law enforcement and the military. We should respect the job they do, but by no means should we make them all out to be heroes. Maybe then people like Slager wouldn't think then that getting a badge and a gun gives them the right to walk around like they are better than their fellow citizens.
DR (New England)
Or we could try recruiting the right people, training them properly, paying them appropriately etc.
Jon Davis (NM)
Although it was a horrific act, it is clear that Officer Slager is mentally ill because there is no other reasonable explanation for what he did. But in the US we seldom distinguish between mental illness and criminality, and we do usually scorn the mentally ill. Mr. Slager needs to be locked up somewhere to protect others; the question is where.
Slager's legal defense will put Charleston's, and all of America's, police training on trial. Cops are trained to shoot first, and to shoot a lot. Not just white cops: Sean Bell in NYC and his friends were hit with a hail of bullets from a group of cops which included Latinos and blacks, as well as whites. Which is why there was less of a protest in the days following. "These things happen," one activist was quoted in the Times. Scott, Brown, Garner - the stories of their last moments all have one thing in common: they ran, they resisted, they attacked. What planet are people living on who believe that this will end well? I've been pulled over by police multiple times, for speeding, illegal U-turn, missing head lamp. I've never had a problem (other than paying a fine). There is more at work here than (alleged) racism among cops. It takes two sides to tango. Cops shoot too much (and miss too often, endangering the innocent). But when they're always grappling with, and/or shooting at, the same people, you can't just demand explanations from the police.
NOLa Lifer (New Orleans)
At some point in the encounter the Officer departed from reality. It could have been when he pulled the man over and started a series of suppositions, or the second he un-holstered his weapon. That is the pivotal instant we must find and dissect if anything positive is to come of this tragedy. The sickening scene of Mr. Slager calmly firing at the fleeing man is something that I wish I could un-see. But it is something that must be faced. It is a sight equal to any violence from another country, a sad reminder of our comon human plight these days. May the family of Walter Scott find peace.
JazzZyx (Illinois)
Has the other police officer on the scene been charged as an accessory to murder? If not, why not? He was there when what appears to be a taser was planted near to the victim - which he should have prevented or reported (a crime being committed in, and of, itself). Furthermore, he did not render assistance to the victim, as required by human decency, and (I think) the law.
TPierre Changstien (bk,nyc)
It is brutally clear that someone needs to give black people a primer on how to interact with police. When an officer stops you, do not run. Do NOT resist. Don't go for his gun. Say as little as possible, comply, and be polite. If your civil rights were violated, that is a subject that needs to be taken up after the fact.

Scott most certainly did not deserve to die. But running is a provocative act, and forces the cop to determine on-the-fly if the fleeing suspect is a danger. Did this guy just commit a crime? Is he armed? Might he be a danger to others?

The liklihood of bad things happening increases exponentially when you do not behave properly in front of law enforcement. And the real tragedy here is that no one is taking the time to explain this to people in the racial demographic which most frequently interacts with cops.
DR (New England)
Did you put forth the same opinion when Cliven Bundy and his buddies waved guns at the police?
James Ross (Oklahoma City)
We should probably look into the reasons that a certain racial demographic has more run ins with the law. Something tells me it is not because they commit crimes at a higher rate.
Sara G. (New York, NY)
Many, many victims of police beatings, shootings and/or murders did not run, resist arrest, or do anything untoward or "provocative". Some were caught on tape (Rodney King, Eric Garner, a few among others); some weren't.

This is about police brutality and excessive force without provocation (and running away - without a weapon - is NOT a provocative act).
arkangel2 (Shelby Township, MI)
What really kills me is that in every cop shooting, there were numerous alternatives, yet every time, the cop went straight to deadly force. I'm willing to bet that psychological testing will show that psychotic people seek careers in law enforcement. Where else can you carry a gun and murder people legally?
Rose Alford (PORTLAND, OR)
You mean psychopathic not psychotic. Using psychotic in your sentence doesn't make any sense.
SRF (New York, NY)
I appreciate this reporting. In the video showing the initial encounter between Mr. Scott and Mr. Slager, Mr. Slager is not being confrontational. He speaks to Mr. Scott in a reasonable, low-key way. That doesn't excuse his murder of Mr. Scott a few minutes later, of course, but it does show that for the officer the encounter was a routine matter--until an unexpected tussle began. Why would he so readily pull out a gun and shoot a fleeing man in the back? Surely because a prohibition against it had not been ingrained in him. There is something very wrong in the police department, not only the individual officer.
NYer (New York)
It would appear that the media has been waiting impatiently to pounce on a clear cut wrongful death case involving a white officer and black victim. Well, they have it - 24 hours a day, seven days a week of jury contamination. Oh, wait, it doesnt matter, I forgot, he's already been found guilty, never mind.
Don (New York)
"her son seemed unaware of just how much attention those eight shots had garnered".

Actually, it wasn't the 8 shots that garnered the attention, it was the killing of an unarmed man, running away from the officer, and then the blatant lying afterwards that garnered so much attention.

There are so many things wrong with this case, like how some reports indicate there was an arrest warrant for Scott issued in 2013, yet some reports say there was no warrant issued or a warrant was issued that morning. Or how Scott was in the process of buying a BMW while trying to dodge child support. There seems to be many arms trying to obfuscate the fact that an officer lied about shooting an unarmed man in the back, 8 times, when there was little treat to his own or the public's safety.
K Yates (CT)
Insofar as the attitude of police, I'm reminded of that portion of the play "The Andersonville Trial" in which the camp's chief officer reveals that he mostly thinks of the Confederate soldiers as rats. Rats, not people who deserve to be treated as humans; you can leave them on the ground to die without much concern. Frankly I've heared comments in my lifetime that aren't too far away from that philosophy.
K Yates (CT)
Sorry, I meant to say "Union soldiers."
Melpub (Germany and NYC)
He's a shy, not very reflective guy in a bad mood with a gun in his hand, low impulse control--that's what this sounds like. When will police be trained not to use guns?
Alexia (RI)
Twenty or thirty years ago criminals that made it big in the news seemed more fit for Hollywood, like Scarface or something. Now it's ordinary men doing dumb things: this, the depressed pilot, the loner weirdo. Crime is crime, however I'm sure the internet has something to do with it all.
polishhilltom (pittsburgh)
Had the mother acknowledged that she had raised a murderer, that would have been newsworthy.That she evades it, can't see him as a 'mean person,' is not. And you reported it, presumably as though it offers insight.
I want my minutes back.
JJ (Bangor, ME)
The training of our police force has to fundamentally change. The fact is, the police are trained to shoot to stop by aiming at center mass when they draw their guns. That's just a euphemism for 'shoot to kill' and so it is not surprising that that mindset takes over in a situation like this where there was an escalating altercation and at some point testosterone took over and disinhibited the rest of the officer's brain.
A training that emphasizes lethal force as the very last resort, drilling in over and over the situations when it is NOT appropriate, rather than the other way round, is what is needed.
Remarkably, there is far less abuse of this kind coming from concealed handgun owners (assuming we have complete statistics, since the NYT usually picks up prominently on that sort of thing). Perhaps because the normal citizen is generally preconditioned against killing and the psychological barrier is higher?
At any rate, I would urge anyyone who is owning a gun and keeping it loaded to go through the mental exercise and visualize the circumstances where the use of lethal force is warranted and ESPECIALLY the circumstances where it is NOT!!!! As this example demonstrates clearly, making a tragic mistake takes less than 2 seconds. That's not enough for the brain to think the situation through. In a rapidly developing situation, the brain needs an unambiguous pattern to fall back on. Follow the wrong pattern and you will regret it for the rest of your life.
Maggie2 (Maine)
We will never know what Michael Slager was thinking during those brief moments when he murdered Walter Scott in cold blood, but it is clear that there is something systemically toxic permeating police departments all across this country. The Slager matter is but one of many and little will change until the will is there to find, utilize and improve a culture which has become increasingly militarized, viewing the rest of us the "enemy". Couple this with the fact that the US has become, thanks to the venal gun manufacturers and an NRA run amok with far too much power, a nation awash in weapons, and we have a recipe for disaster.
Raj (Long Island, NY)
For a moment, let us assume that there was no video of this murder in cold blood. This would be in the news:

The very same Police Department, City Administration, Police Union etc. would be praising Slager to high heavens, based on his manufactured story, planted evidence, as corroborated by a fellow officer who rushed to the scene to help a brother in distress. Slager would have been issued a citation by the city and possibly, some sort of promotion, for surviving a murderous attack on him, and for personally taking on a threat to the society.

What a huge difference a video makes….

If cameras existed when the Constitution and the Bill of Rights were discussed and put into force, the Founding Fathers would have made free and open access to these devices, and their use anyplace, anytime part of the Bill of Rights, just like they did with the pre-eminent protective device of their time: Firearms. Perhaps video camera-toting citizens are the modern equivalent of the “A well regulated militia” that the Founding Fathers envisioned as a check against tyranny.

Now, only if we had a NRA protecting, and loudly broadcasting the rights of such camera-toting citizens...
James Hadley (Providence, RI)
One looks at the facts here, and, really, only one conclusion can be made. It is the culture of policing that has brought this about. A culture of empowerment and of lack of accountability - backgrounded in a fear of the loss of any real economic justice or order within the society. The story of the individual policeman in this incident does not seem to reveal a background of violence, or sadistic behavior. Instrad, what emerges is the story of a somewhat unformed individual who matures within a culture that allows, even encourages, a systemic disrespect for persons of color, and for the economically disavantaged.
The police departments are just a symptom. As the point men and women responsible for order in the emerging inequality that is the United States of the early 21st century, this group shows the real strains within a society gone awry.
THAT is what we are dealing with here today in the US, ladies and gentlemen.
And ranting politically will not change this, only calm reasonable discussion can make a difference.
Anybody want to venture a guess as to the odds of that happening in the upcoming election?
Bethannm (connecticut)
I wonder what the correct response is when a police officer is faced with a fleeing suspect? Shooting a gun is not the correct choice, and I wouldn't think tasering him would be, but what is?

I was raised to respect the authority of the law and police officers and I doubt that I would run away from an arresting officer. I'm curious as to what Mr. Scott hoped to accomplish by running away.

This incident appears to me as the unfortunate meeting of 2 individuals who could not exercise good judgement.
Laura (Florida)
What was Scott suspected of, exactly?

Slager had his car and his ID. He could have found out what Scott was probably running away about, and also get an idea of how dangerous Scott was, simply by calling in and asking about outstanding warrants. In no case should he have shot after someone when there was no life-or-death reason to. Police departments across the country have abandoned high speed chases whenever possible b/c they put other people at risk. Shooting after someone who is running away ought to be viewed the same way, at the very least; even if you can't get to the point of asking what that person has done to justify your trying to execute him without judge or jury.
DR (New England)
Scott wasn't in any way violent and hadn't committed any kind of serious crime. The police knew where he lived. He could have been arrested later.
Peter Chandler (NY)
Bethannm - A suspect for running away from a policeman who has pulled him over for a non-criminal infraction (one non-functioning tail light out of three, while the statuary SC requisite is one functioning brake light), is tasseled, then panics and runs away again, and is shot - in the back 8 times. The shooter is a uniformed policeman, armed on behalf of 'society' - he is not just 'some unfortunate meeting.' Your comment does not exercise clear judgement - to be charitable.
Piceous (Norwich CT)
I don't think this shooting is an exception. The video is the exception. I can recall the Harvard professor being arrested for breaking into his own home, Rodney King being beaten by L.A. police officers, Eric Gardner choked for selling a cigarette, a man shot for looking at a toy rifle at Walmart, a child shot for brandishing a toy rifle. Without the videos or celebrity these are not news stories. They are facts of life.
valentine34 (Florida)
He'll be portrayed as a lone wolf bad apple, to avoid shedding light on the selection, training and closely held beliefs of the insular police fraternity.
rpache (Upstate, NY)
A couple of thoughts about this article. Why am I looking at this melodramatic photo of the police officer's mother? And someone who was shot in the back by police, laid dying, handcuffed, and his name does not even appear in the article until the seventh paragraph? Can't you do better than this?
JayNYC (New York)
Um, because this article is not about the victim or even the apparent crime. There are plenty of those, you're more than welcome to read them.
MCS (New York)
it's sad that a man lost his life. I somehow see a slight bit of smear towards the victim and excuse for the murderer. Does it really matter than the man was driving a Mercedes with a broken tail light and he owed back child support. And, do we have to always go to the friends and family who say they are confounded by what has happened, he (the cop) was a great father, friend, son. Very sensitive. Apparently one definite trait he did not have! "Divorce caused the trouble in him", no, "Police Training desensitized him." Give me a break. He had no business becoming a Police Officer being so troubled. I suspect racism quite frankly. I'm certain the trouble within is deep and beyond what any of us can imagine in a quick interview. He's a grown man who was well, enough and stable enough allegedly to become a police officer. He should now stand and face the consequences without excuses.
I think it's just awful this trotting out of his mother. Please stop. Whatever pain she s going through is her son's fault but of absolutely no concern to this as a new story. It's a sorry attempt to try to shape opinion, while the facts of the case are clear as day.
Phil Silvers (Rhinebeck, NY)
You can bet 'mom' is being trotted out by the family lawyer out to soften the jury pool.
W84me (Armonk, NY)
As for the dramatic photo the the police officer's mother -- It's nauseating. Yeah, she says he's scared to death. But his fright is no comparison with the 'scared' factor of all the minorities who are thinking, "I could be next."

Revolting photo. And I have NO sympathy for the P.O. right now.
my 2 cents (Northern Cali)
Perhaps if the other officers who murdered unarmed citizens were prosecuted, then this situation could have been avoided. The message was loud and clear when it became open season on black males, followed by the claim of fear and exoneration. Maybe if Officer Slager knew there would be consequences for killing Mr.Scott, he would have found an alternative. It pays to do the right thing from the beginning.
Michael (Santa Monica)
I am fascinated by the guy who filmed. He seems like an ordinary good citizen, but he was able to think about his actions and take a huge risk. That recording is radioactive, many people for many reasons would want it, no matter the cost. He is a hero.
Pete (Seattle)
The bigger issue here is the “Blue Wall” of silence that says officers do not inform against each other. If there was no video and the second officer told the actual truth, he would have forever been ostracized by police departments, and would have had to change professions. This is never discussed by police representatives, but perhaps is understandable. Officers are often put into very hostile situations, similar to those in the military. A partner is always expected to “have your back” and to violate that trust is unforgivable. This truth is never discussed, but to expect an officer to show loyalty to the truth, or to the public is unrealistic. The only way to change this situation is to have every officer equipped with video so that is truth is recorded for all to see. If a second officer lies, he to should be charged just like a civilian who participates in the cover-up of a murder.
Donnie H. (Orlando Florida)
This cop is filmed viciously shooting an unarmed man in the back who is running away and you show a picture of his mother praying for her scarred son. Perhaps it's me, but it seems like media always make an effort to portray White people who are suspected of committing vicious crimes in the best possible light. The picture alone gives me the image of troubled police officer whose is battling with emotional issues. I was such a powerful picture that it made me ask why I am purposely being focused away from the horrible crime that was committed to see the person, and his family? After pondering it a few moments, I thought wow that is great journalism because it paints a more complete picture. What I am not ok with is that this seems to be a privilege isn't granted to everyone. In fact I would be so bold as to say it is a privilege that the NY Times typically does not grant to Black people. I would truly welcome a more complete picture of an African American person who was alleged to have committed a vicious crime. As an example why didn't the NY Times take this approach with Mumia Abul Jamal or Aaron Alexis? If you were going to do a dramatic picture, why not a picture of the slain man's family praying? I wonder what standards do media outlets like the NY Times utilize to determine if they are representing all people fairly?
James Ross (Oklahoma City)
Police departments around the country should give up the pretense of "to protect and to serve" and change their motto to "obey or die".

My only extended experience with the police was when they came knocking on my door late one evening. I refused to answer because we had been informed by our apartment management that someone had been going around trying to gain entry to people's homes under the guise of the police. Naturally, I was groggy, nervous, and confused since I had done nothing wrong (they were investigating some sort of smell that turned out to be from a mile or two away). When I exorcized me right to deny entry the police officer became infuriated. He cursed at me, attempted to emasculate me, said, "I hope you do not ever need the police", and told me "he was going to remember this apartment." I was shaken and furious. This officer was mad because someone dared to exercise their constitutional right and refused his demand (not request). I wonder what would have happened if I had been a) black and b) we did not have a heavy metal door between us.

I believe this to be the rule and not the exception. Their inability to accept civil disobedience, a bedrock of any democratic society, is a large part of the problem.

Policing is a terribly difficult job. Not many people want to maybe get shot for 24k a year, but it is not a job for half-educated machismos who like to boss people around.
Frank DeFelice (Sunnyvale, CA)
Instead of doing background checks on police officers, we should profile for inherent racism. Clearly, officers from rural areas (and big cities) are subjected to the the culture of racism in growing up, getting an "education", and in the workplace. Their parents are racists too. (All behavior is learned behavior.) Cop racists stigmatize police everywhere who are great civil servants.
David (Nyc)
Strong opinions to this piece are to be expected, but let's include resonable nuance:

While the officer's actions are clearly wrong and should not be tolerated: adrenaline flooding, to be expected in arrest situations, leads people to do things they might not otherwise do. This is not an excuse, but should be understood as a real, nearly universal phenomenon. This means officers require more training that one might expect so that they are more likely to do the right thing when adrenaline starts flowing. At the same time, punishment should be expected.
Jeanne (Home)
Many people work in situations where there is "adrenaline flooding." A professional is expected to remain calm and controlled in order to make best, good decisions. I worked in trauma care all my life; maintaining control was necessary to have the best possible outcome for the patient. It not only can be done, it should be required. Slager's decision to shoot an unarmed FLEEING suspect that had not committed a crime was an egregious error that this police officer should be punished for..after all, Mr. Scott paid the ultimate price-death. If police officers cannot maintain control of their emotions they are in the wrong line of work.
Miriam (Raleigh)
It comes off as an excuse and justification. It is the same for those fleeing too.
Sara G. (New York, NY)
"Adrenaline flooding"? What you're saying is that we should be afraid for our lives - because of "adrenaline flooding" - if we're pulled over for speeding or making a move that a cop finds offensive or annoying (like running away) or else we may be murdered. Do you understand that that is what you're saying? I see no nuance in the video of this cold-blooded murder of an unarmed man.
George (Pennsylvania)
Part of the problem is the trend towards training police to fire on a subject until they are no longer a threat. In a nearby community a 21 year old man wanted for a petty offense ran out his back yard to escape and carried a pellet gun, which according to numerous witnesses never turned toward police. No matter they fired a total of 51 shots, 11 of which hit this person and were fatal.

Of course, a federal jury acquitted the police. And so it goes...
jim (arizona)
Wow, this headline is horrible!

How about "After putting eight bullets into the back of an unarmed, fleeing man...Michael Slager is an officer scorned."

Is the NYT really doing this? Is it really attempting to show us that the officer was once a child (weren't we all?), he "played cops and robbers as a boy"...after all, was a child of divorce (as half of us are), a quiet child, a bit socially awkward, and perhaps, just perhaps, that type of upbringing lead him to this?

At the same time, the victim, Mr. Scott, is portrayed as "having owed $18,000 in child support...and was running away.". Did Mr. Scott also play cops and robbers as a child? Was HE a child of divorce? Was he socially awkward?

Mr. Slager made a horrible, horrible mistake, and this lead to the death of an innocent human being.
Phoenix (California)
You call Mr. Slager's deadly actions "a horrible, horrible mistake [that] led to the death of an innocent human being." What if Slager's shooting Mr. Scott eight times in the back was not a mistake at all? What if that is exactly what he intended to do, and then he attempted to mitigate the heinousness of his act by staging the crime scene to heap blame upon Mr. Scott and to further exculpate himself from guilt of cold-blooded murder? What if killing Mr. Scott was NOT a "mistake" at all but, rather, exactly what Mr. Slager very much wanted to do: to kill an unarmed human being, even one in retreat?
Here's a thought Ms. Sharpe: your son killed a man and deprived children of a father, a woman of her husband-to-be. What would you think of the man that did that to your son and daughter-in-law?

And I have to agree with many of the posters here that we have a problem with how the police have been trained and heavily militarized. This isn't Afghanistan where there are roadside bombs or Vietnam where kids were outfitted with bombs. We have agreed under the ethos of our Constitution that people are innocent until proven guilty and if you deprive someone of life, de facto depriving them of due process, that it violates the spirit of the laws of our country. Cops have to be trained to err on the side of preserving liberty and due process instead of just apprehending people who happens to owe child support like they were some armed and dangerous fugitive.
mbck (SFO)
You have to thank the NRA for this kind of evolution. When there are more guns, more freely available, more difficult to even ask about - there are more guns in the hands of criminals or borderline criminals.

As an obvious consequence, policemen are more concerned about a concealed or otherwise available gun would be shot at them whenever they interact with a civilian. It is not justifiable to kill a police officer over an arrest either, but it happens too often.

This in no way excuses shots being fired where there is enough distance between the policeman and the civilian. That there were, and that a man died, is what is a first anomaly. The obvious attempt at covering up, as evidenced by the video, is the next.

That the policeman was on edge when stopping Mr. Scott, alas, is now routine; he had many reasons to be fearful at that moment - but not later. Still, that fear is very probably related to the sad consequences.

An unregulated "militia" is not necessary for the safety of any state.
Iver Thompson (Pasadena, CA)
Not only does he have to carry the weight of his own sins, but now he has to carry the weight of all those who came before him that were allowed to get away because the public's conscience was not riled enough to recognize the problem we all confronted. The fact that it took so long for people to start caring about the matters of those who innocently died and those who mistakenly became empowered to act about the law, only makes this officers demonization all the more unjust. He's simply a reflection of the society he from, not some foreign bad apple alien to the rest of us who would wish to believe that we would never do anything such as what we say him do and caught on camera. Until we face that fact, no matter how severely he's punished, nothing's going to change for the better.
Phoenix (California)
It is a lofty thought to generalize Mr. Slager's deadly actions to nothing more than "simply a reflection of the society he [was] from, not some foreign bad apples alien to the rest of us . . . " With great objection, I resist this characterization that places Mr. Slager on the slippery slope of moral behavior. NO. Mr. Slager was trained as a peace officer--to serve and protect. He took a sworn oath to protect the citizens. Instead he wreaked his own personal violence on an unarmed man because he thought no one was looking. Mr. Slager bears the FULL responsibility for a cold-blooded murder that need never have happened.

Racism may be endemic to our culture, but our law enforcement offices are always held to a higher standard. Mr. Slager himself carries the full weight of this murder. It is not the fault of the universe. It was not the misalignment of the stars. It was not a "simple reflection of the society he was from." NO. It was Mr. Slager himself who is criminally responsible for the death of an unarmed black man of 50 years of age who simply ran. If running deserves a death sentence, let's see the legal codification of that. And let's also see the codification of staging a murder scene as Mr. Slager tried to get away with. NO. Society at large is not to blame for this tragic murder. The blame falls to one man, Michael Slager. who deviated from protocol and training and chose to act out of racial hatred.
fintip (st. john's)
The fact his union and fellow officers have distanced themselves from him is a positive sign. So often it is the opposite response - the circling of the wagons.

Without in any way diminishing the inexplicable, horrific nature of this act, it is at the same time possible to see Mr. Slager as a victim of a policing model that is severely flawed. It has engendered a we-versus-them bunker mentality with brute force topping rationality and behavioural insight as the go-to standard of conduct.

We rightly expect police officers to have more, not less, control over their impulses than ordinary citizens. Recruits should be screened on that basis and their training should constantly reinforce it. But sadly, being handed a gun and a badge all too often has the opposite outcome; it enables the worst aspects of human nature.
jules (california)
Oh please --- Don't be fooled by the union, or fellow officers, distancing from Slager. It is not a positive sign of anything. The only reason they are doing it, is because there is video proof.

The story would be wholly different without the video.
Jen (NY)
It seems to me this article buries the lede - that Officer Slager has a pattern of using excessive force against black males who are no threat to him whatsoever! (the Givens case) Instead, we get 2/3 of the story about what a nice, shy guy he is.
michjas (Phoenix)
Mr. Slager has a chance of getting off with a manslaughter conviction here. The law provides that if the killing is provoked by the victim, then the proper verdict is voluntary manslaughter, not murder. The fight between the two could be deemed sufficient provocation, particularly because rejecting that view requires proof beyond a reasonable doubt. And, incidentally, the jury pool for the trial will be about 2/3 white, for whatever that is worth.

Manslaughter in South Carolina is punishable by imprisonment for 2-20 years. Just thought you'd like to know.
Miriam (Raleigh)
Everybody knows what SC justice looks like, we do, but thanks for the reminder.
Sally L. (NorthEast)
I think no matter how bad the situation is, you can't just shoot someone in the back 8 times. I think if a suspect is running, you are supposed to shoot them in the leg or foot to slow them down, not shoot to kill. It seems there is an epidemic of "shoot to kill" which is permeating police protocol. I hope that isn't true, but it sure looks that way.
John H (Atlanta)
I hope hael T. Slager get the electric chair for lynching of that man on tv. That scene was just too crazy to be real, but it was the cold hard truth about white police , and black men . Its been this way ever since they brought us over in here on those slave ships.
Eraven (NJ)
To me it is very simply. Cops are implicitly told in training., If you see a black guy running no problem shoot him
Woodaddy6 (New York)
Don't forget to mention that whatever he dropped next to the victim he later picked up and put it in his belt. Did anyone consider the possibility that there was an attempt to grab the taser, it fell on the ground and when the officer initially walked away it was to retrieve the taser which he then dropped on the ground next to the victim?
Not defending the actions of the police, seems a bit extreme to shoot the guy 8 times but one must not forget when the police tell you to freeze the moment you engage an officer the dynamics change and not in the favor of the perp.
Miriam (Raleigh)
One need not forget in this country you do have rights, one of which is not to be shot in the back, casually, carefully and lots of seeming practice by a policeguy
Philip Sedlak (Antony, Hauts-de-Seine, France)
Unfortunately we will never know whether he was a "perp" or not.
robert conger (mi)
Why does law enforcement always feel like they have pursue to the deadly end.Remember this started with a broken tail light. Ferguson was about cigars Maybe the training should change In certain circumstances just let the person go it is better than a dead body.
Phoenix (California)
Your question is a good one. With such minor offenses, why do white officers repeatedly pursue and engage in deadly action with black men until death is the outcome? It is in the officers' behavior that the themselves motives are clarified. White officers seize on minor offenses and carry those pursuits to the death of the black citizen because that is what they WANT. If they didn't want it, the officers would find a thousand other means to stop the escalation to killing black men. Behavior defines motive, and this is the case ---sadly again-- here with Slager. Over a broken tail light, Slager shot Mr. Scott eight times in the back because he WANTED to. With all the alternatives he had, Slager chose this one.
Tara (New York)
A Coast Guard veteran killing another Coast Guard veteran. Both men served in the United States Armed Forces. Now, one is dead brutally executed by the other. What has this country come to?
Earl Horton (Harlem,Ny)
This is an appeal for compassion for Slager& family. This is to minimize the horrific and malevolent action he took in abusing his authority to kill a man.

As always whenever there is an issue of white barbarity there seems to be a back story, a humanistic story that tells why this man blew a fuse. This man felt it was okay to shoot an unarmed black man in the back;period. Just as Wilson in Ferguson, Panteleo in Staten Island, Haste in the Bronx etc. each had a mindset to KILL. Whether it was because of personal issues or racist beliefs who really cares, a man's life was extinguished by someone who had no right to do so. Imagine without the video what would have happened, nothing....
Never will you find such in depth reach for understanding the perpetrator.Not if he were black or brown. Instead, that person is immediately portrayed as an animal, unworthy to live in society, and typical of their kind. No one delves into that person's upbringing which more often than not has been in a dysfunctional impoverished home. Not all the time, but primarily.
Growing up in a marginalized underprivileged community with social ills, gives one some kind of understanding if a person takes on a miscreant behavior, esp with no guidance or support.
What is Slager's problem? He felt that Mr. Scott was expendable, he had the right to take life away from him.
The NY Times did it again, subtly, as with the family of the Newtown shooter. Seek answers to white crimes; an attempt to humanize...
JoAnne (Georgia)
It's as if killing African-American males is a status symbol in the police force.
Shermane (Shermane)
Correction: "lost", not "loss."
Lornemcc (Toronto)
Interesting information on Mr Slager's background, in particular his academic and scholastic achievements, or more accurately the lack thereof. It seems people who comment on the low hiring standards in municipal policing are bang on! How sickening that this fellow was given so much power over so many vulnerable people.
ScottNY (New York, NY)
"then dispassionately handcuffing him as he lay dying"

Many were outraged when they saw that, but it is common police procedure to handcuff someone even after they've been shot and not moving.
Sara G. (New York, NY)
The officer didn't following common or accepted police procedure when he shot Mr. Scott in the back while fleeing. Why on earth would it be on the cop's radar to suddenly follow "common police procedure" in handcuffing Mr. Scott after he shot him dead? People are commenting about handcuffing of Mr. Scott because it was incongruent - and inhumane - given the officer's murderous behavior.
FreeDem (Sharon, MA)
How about the failure to administer CPR while claiming in the incident report that it was done? I think it was the juxtaposition of the 2 that was so disgusting. "I'll handcuff you to be sure you can't hurt me, and then walk away because I have no other concern."
Maria (New York)
Clearly Mr. Slager is a product of his work environment. I cannot believe I am reading this angle in the New York Times. Really?
Small Town Reporter (Maryland)
I'm sorry but most of this story seems to be almost entirely sympathetic to Slager. How many cops, and non-cops for that matter, are children of divorce or who had problems adjusting as a child, and who were generally once very nice kids growing up. This story should have violins playing in the background. It's like NYT is making a case for leniency while making note of Scott's prior arrests to suggest that Scott had it coming in life.
sandhillgarden (Gainesville, FL)
It is amazing to me how many people think that a police officer should be able to shoot a man down with impunity. Summary justice for being too poor to pay child support. Broken tail light, no driver's license = capital punishment without trial. Perhaps instead of police checkpoints or ticket quotas, there should be firing squads along the road. After all, they deserve it, don't they?
It seems rather clear that Mr. Slager craved stability, structure and clearly-defined hierarchy where he wouldn't have to do too much thinking for himself. Even in his marriage he chose an already-created family that he could become part of--instant dad to someone else's children.

And he clearly followed careful training, creating a plausible scene to justify the shooting. We know he was trained to do that, because the second officer, who happened to be black but seemed just as untroubled by the situation, assisted and supported him in legitimizing that scene.

If police forces required optimum psychological health in their recruits, we'd have few cops in this country.
charles almon (brooklyn NYC)
Have you ever been on jury duty and are asked during the selection process if
you would give more credence to testimony if it came from a police officer?
Would a loud "EXCUUUUUUUSE ME?" get one excluded?
Irene (Ct.)
Michael Slager was playing "cops and robbers" in the woods. The "robber" had many warrants out against him and was driving an unregistered car, when confronted he tried to run away. The "cop" made a decision that this was a dangerous man and he had to take him down in the only way he knew how, by shooting him. This is about people with mental health issues on both sides confronting each other. The more publicity about this the better. Hopefully, something will be done to stop this kind of reaction by the police and the people being confronted by the police.
jgury (chicago)
What stood out to me watching this awful video is how relaxed, even nonchalant, officer Slager is after the shooting then casually dropping the object next to the body. Most civil rights activists who watched the video believe the object was a Taser that the officer said Mr. Scott had grabbed, and so does everyone else. Civil rights activists having no particular expertise in viewing youtube videos or understanding the banalities of evil.
jlthmg (new york city)
Much as I am continuously horrified by the loss of black life from so-called law enforcement officers, I know that focus on individual officers will never stop the killings. We must stop believing that having a black president -- or any other simple example -- means we have solved our race issues. Americans must engage in the complex task of admitting and then addressing unconscious and subconscious fear of the black "other." Until we do, these horrific acts will continue, and so will the myriad other micro-inequities that plague black Americans every day.
Paul R (Indianapolis)
It's impossible not to sympathize with another human being upon learning some details of that person's life. I'm certain this article wasn't published in an attempt to excuse (ex) officer Slager's actions but to provide information about him. That information reveals the uncomfortable fact that a person "just like us" can do a terrible thing.
Charles (N.J.)
One has to wonder why little has been done to change the police procedures for using deadly force during the Obama administration.
Steve Scheiber (Slingerlands, NY)
because -- generally speaking -- the actions of local police forces have nothing to do with the Federal Government. Rules are made locally for each jurisdiction. Why everyone seems to think that Mr. Obama can solve all problems (like get you more money on your reverse mortgage or lower your insurance premiums) continues to mystify me.
SteveS (Jersey City)
Making Slager into a monster misses the broader lesson of this incident.

Humans are faulty and subject to emotions that can be exacerbated by confrontation which can elevate fear and hormone levels and lead to actions that rational people would not take. Add to that the above the law entitlement of police officers and a gun and incidents like this result.

Slager is not a monster. A certain percentage of police officers act inappropriately because of their feelings of being not subject to laws and being able to lie about confrontations.

The gun culture in this country allows what might be minor violence to turn into firing 8 shots into someone's back as they are running away.

Slager is just the person caught on a video from which there can be no exhoneration.

The correct reaction is to allow justice to take its course with Slager, and other police officers who lied to support his lies, but use this incident to teach us how to reduce the risk of this happening in the future.

Finally, Slager's wife and unborn baby are totally innocent and among the victims. It is hard to imagine how the wife can deal with this in the last month of her pregnancy. She deserves help.
Peter Chandler (NY)
Evil is benign - that's the point. Most Nazi's killing Jews were following orders and doing what was expected of them. Maybe Slagel thought shooting black guys in Mercedes who run away after they're tazed was expected of him. He looked at the kid filming him and kept on business as usual, which indicated to me that he expected to get away with his actions willy-nilly.
Susan (Piedmont, CA)
"Act inappropriately"?? That's about as sanitized a description as I've heard so far of shooting a running man 8 times in the back, then immediately planting evidence to suggest, falsely, that the dying man brought this upon himself.
FreeDem (Sharon, MA)
Walter Scott left behind four children and a fifth, unborn child. He was behind on child support, not an admirable thing, but he will never have the opportunity to catch up now that he's been murdered. Just curious to know why it did not apparently concern you that his children and unborn baby need help as well.
teo (St. Paul, MN)
If we give one person unchecked authority, such person will abuse it.

As a condition of employment, cops should have to wear cameras. It's inevitable that an officer -- in a difficult spot -- will be tempted to abuse their authority. A camera is the check on the authority.

Thank God this incident was filmed. Otherwise, Officer Slager would have been telling his manager and everyone else who would listen that the victim threatened him or that he feared for his life.

Cops need cameras on their uniforms. Let's see how many end up behind bars like this one should.
ibivi (Toronto ON Canada)
Body cameras have one flaw-the person wearing it can turn it off. Also, police who testify at grand jury hearings put their spin on events and despite video evidence their version of events are often accepted by the jurors.
Jim New York (Ny)
He shot this man is he were hunting animal, pure and simple. No human being should die like that.
Denniemb (Nyc)
based on the requirements listed on it only requires a High school diploma or equivalent to become a police officer plus attending the police academy. In theory, an individual making life an death decisions on a populous should require more education before providing individuals with with an arsenal of weapons to "protect". there are numerous careers that have far less responsibility but require more education. given this fact, I believe body cameras and other monitoring technologies for police officers is a logical step if the level of education is to remain the same. I shudder to think that the average retail worker may have more education then the typical policeman. as such if retail worker can be heavily monitored than police officers should be as well.
DR (New England)
It doesn't help that we have people who want to reduce pay and benefits for police officers. What caliber of people do they think that will attract?
Susan (Piedmont, CA)
You seem to feel that more "education" will produce a better police force, in the sense of more humane, more reasonable. I can't think of much evidence for this view. College graduates do not necessarily exhibit more of those qualities than anyone else.
Barry Schreibman (Cazenovia, New York)
Let's wait, OK, and not lynch this guy. A cop can't shoot at a fleeing suspect unless the officer or someone else is endangered or unless the suspect is fleeing a felony. Slager shot at a fleeing suspect and killed him. That much we know. As for the rest -- there are questions. There are always questions. Why did Scott flee a traffic stop? Was he driving the car with the owner's permission? Did Scott resist arrest and/or grab for Slager's taser? Even if there is some culpability on Scott's part it's hard to feel much sympathy for Slager. What really infuriated me was the way he left Scott's face in the dirt as he calmly cuffed him. Did he think Scott could breath that way? But still, it's not clear that all of this adds up to murder. We should let the legal process develop the facts.
Andre (Noble)
"Let's wait, OK, and not lynch this guy." That is precisely the concession that officer Slager did not extend to Mr. Scott.
Bruce (Weston, CT)
That's incorrect. Tennessee v Garner (471 U.S. 1 (1985) clearly states :


"The Tennessee statute is unconstitutional insofar as it authorizes the use of deadly force against, as in this case, an apparently unarmed, nondangerous fleeing suspect; such force may not be used unless necessary to prevent the escape and the officer has probable cause to believe that the suspect poses a significant threat of death or serious physical injury to the officer or others."

Textbook violation of Garner law. I would be very surprised if these even gets to court. I suspect Slager will take a life sentence in exchange for taking the death penalty off the table
gastonb (vancover)
Many years ago I taught a class in research methods for a criminal justice program in a midwestern university. One of the students was a young policeman. We were discussing a classic situation in social science research: how do you draw information out of a reluctant interviewee without affecting the validity of the content. The young policeman/student politely raised his hand and stood, then said, 'well, sometimes you just have to hit 'em.'

He was a pleasant young man who wanted to do the right thing but he'd been taught that there were 'good guys and bad guys' and that the police have the right to use violence. Officer Slager took this basic premise and had the bad luck to be caught by a citizen with a camera. The only positive thing coming out of this horrible use of violence is that the police union is, for once, not trying to protect and paper over police brutality. Could it be that even the cops have had enough?
Lynn in DC (um, DC)
I don't understand how a person who has difficulty with human social interaction qualifies to be a police officer. Does North Charleston issue a gun and badge to any one who applies to the police force? The biggest part of the job is dealing with people and an officer can't (well, shouldn't) allow his gun to do all of the talking. It is scary how his personality as described (inability to socialize with others) is similar to that of Elliot Rodger and Adam Lanza.
Gramercy (New York, NY)
I would be very interested in hearing his defense. He is a cold-blooded killer and a cheat.
Ray (<br/>)
Has anyone taken the time to see if Mr. Slager had any prior interactions with Mr. Scott?
Peter Rant (Bellport)
I had written a scathing comment when I first saw the video, but since then I have had time to think about it. First of all, we never see the prelude to Mr. Slager aiming his pistol at the victim and shooting. Obviously, there was a struggle in close quarters where he first shoots the victim with a taser which had, apparently, little or no effect.

He may at that time actually felt threatened, but then the video begins and we see the victim running away from Mr. Slager, who is certainly adrenalized and emotionally afraid and angry. Rather then compose himself, Mr Slager choose to draw his pistol and shoot the fleeing victim, who just seconds before was in a scuffle with him.

He acted unprofessionally, but certainly did not "murder" the victim at least not in the first degree. As in most cases like this, the policeman let there emotions overrule their better judgment at the moment. You can see in the video when he realized what he had done, and thinking rationally then, after handcuffing the dying victim, walks back to retrieve the taser while composing his "story" on the radio. (Then planting it, next to the victim)

I think the public better be prepared to hear that Mr. Slager may be completely exonerated, and certainly a reduced punishment. After using the taser, (and let's face it, he could have just shot the guy then), he must have felt that he was out of less lethal options. He was too angry to chase him, or to just let him go.
mikenh (Nashua, N.H.)
Maybe the likes of Karen Sharpe should be "frightened to death" how the police in the country and especially her community now blatantly ignore the motto "to protect and serve."
smallVoice (depopulation center)
"sorry we believe you are guilty-- no support from the police union for YOU! after watching 'the video' we believe you are guilty ... you are outside of our support, huh." -sighed the N. Charleston Police Union (or whatever they call themselves).

speaks volumes to me about public cowardice in the face of what the N. Charleston Police union may know to be not all that unusual practice.
dkensil (mountain view, california)
Regarding my earlier comment on Mr. Slager's temperament, I found the following in a Daily Beast article a few minutes ago:

On the recording, a senior officer tells Slager to jot down notes about his version of what happened after his adrenaline stops pumping, to which Slager responds, laughing, “It’s pumping.”

hepcat8 (jive5)
So far, we have three video depictions of the incident. This article does not mention the first, which was taken by a camera mounted on the dashboard of Mr. Slager's police car. It indicates a completely polite initial contact with Mr. Scott, and it ends with Mr. Scott's sudden opening of his car door and running away out of the camera's field of view. The second begins with Mr. Scott's fleeing while Mr. Slager stands and fires at him. What is missing is the confrontation between Slager and Scott as the latter starts to run away. So we have no understanding of what happened to change this totally routine stop into the ultimate tragedy it became. Hopefully, the eventual trial of Mr.Slager will produce evidence to fill in the gaps. Until then, it seems wise not to jump to conclusions.
JimBob (California)
I'm all for showing a little compassion, understanding that life is complicated and "there but for the grace of god go I..." but it seems a little too soon to be trying to mine sympathy for Mr. Slager. We need anger and determination if we're ver going to stop the way the police operate in this country. Let the complexities of one individual be analyzed after we've accomplished that, when the cops are no longer an occupying military in our midst.
one percenter (ct)
I live in a small Connecticut town. There are so many police keeping us under surveillance that many call us "occupied" Soon we will be seen as "insurgents".
REP (Chapel Hill)
This is about the sad banality of evil. Certainly not a new idea but sometimes the morally righteous need to be reminded of it if only to prevent their own self-asphyxiation from the lofty heights of their judgments. The common all too human faces of the policeman and his victim are there for us to see and ponder: All of us could easily be one or the other.
Laf (Maine)
Midtown2015 (NY)
cops in the US are like mini versions of James Bonds'; licensed to kill, no questions asked.

I see statements like "just follow the cops orders, dont do this, dont do that, obey every single thing they say, dont run" - as if they are gods, and we are simply there to obey their commands. Lost in all this is that they are there to protect us. Now it became such a farce that we need someone else to protect us from cops; if you are a non white, it appears your life is in jeopardy everytime you step out (or even at home; some cop barges into your home for some investigation, you are confused, distressed, not sure whats going on, they bark some orders, and before you know it they taser you down if you are lucky, and if unlucky shoot you down.

That is the reality if you are a non white.

I dont think white people have any clue, and are blithely ignorant. They say we now live in a color and race blind society, but being white does confer a huge advantage on you, which is you are very unlikely to be sbot down by a cop for no reason; this is definitely not true for non whites
Ted (Brooklyn)
I see the this cop being demonized by the police departments and unions just like they usually demonize the victims. It's all about casting blame elsewhere.
Jordan (Melbourne Fl.)
so exactly what is it that you want? Needless to say if the police department and/ or unions DID try to stick up for this guy you would have been spilling bile at them for having the temerity to even attempt to defend him.
Ted (Brooklyn)
What do I want? I was simply commenting on that once the video became public, the Blue Wall circled its wagons and threw their comrade under the bus. What do I want? I want a well trained, restrained, and fully accountable to the tax payers police force.
Lorelei3 (Florida)
Wait. Are you saying that the cop who shot a man in the back 8 times, planted evidence and then failed to provide aid is the victim? Of what?
Kay Johnson (Colorado)
I heard an interview on NPR about a woman who was/is instrumental in turning around the cesspool in the LAPD by changing what was considered the highest values of their dept. NOT making arrests but problem solving became how you gained seniority and raises. The community was actually giving the cops standing ovations for their work and the police felt respected. But it was a whole different paradigm than gunning people down and covering it up and lying to people who know you are a pack of liars. I hope some turn around can happen nation-wide. The kinds of minds running things have no solutions.
DR (New England)
I've seen some good stories about L.A. and what they've accomplished. Someone should look at hiring one of their people to roll out some kind of training project on a national level.
Air Marshal of Bloviana (Over the Fruited Plain)
Yes, nation wide, right around the corner, coming right up, in no time at all.
Kay Johnson (Colorado)
One other point was that this woman let police ask anything, talk about anything with her without judgment from her. What she found was that a large percentage of the men she was working with were petrified of people of other races, could not understand them etc. And she made ways for people to get to know each other in the community. Crime plummeted.
J&G (Denver)
The police force works like a band of Brothers. Even amongst real brothers some are nice and some are not so nice. We need a police force that is better trained in human interaction, conflict resolution, negotiation, less confrontation, better manners with a little less aggressive first encounter and introduction.
arkangel2 (Shelby Township, MI)
92% of those who seek a career in law enforcement or the military are psychotic to some degree, per a study conducted in the 90's, following the Rodney King beating. To me, it makes perfect sense. In what other profession can you carry a gun and murder people without consequence? If not for the video, Slager would have received a medal for bravery.
And by the by, the Taser is a instrument of torture in the hands of most police. Every time I read about the Taser, someone died at their hands. These sadists seem to be having a wonderful time "subduing" and thereby murdering someone who did nothing to justify its use.
Dennis (NYC)
Your commentary is hideously non-fact-based. In 2013, all NYC police combined shot a total of 248 bullets in 81 incidents (10 percent of which were suicide-related), only two of which (excluding suicide-related incidents) involved unauthorized use.

"Every time [you] read about the Taser" is a tiny fraction of the total number of Taser uses. Learn something about what is and is not newsworthy.

And if you are going to engage in rabid anti-cop rhetoric, have the human decency to back your screed up with real, substantive supportive evidence.
Dave Cushman (SC)
It seems that many officers who get into these situations have a problem with being disrespected. Sure all of us want to be respected, but if being disrespected pushes one over into violence, that person should not have a job, carrying a firearm, where such situations are likely to occur.

Officers with a strong sense of self can shake off, and not take personally the petty, stupid, inflamed responses of those they must regularly deal with.
Richard M (Los Angeles)
Slager's scared to death? What a shame. Tell that to Walter Scott--maybe he'd feel better.
nexttsar (Baltimore, MD)
Thanks for everyone rushing to judgement about Slager/Scott incident. The video does not include the part where Slager and Scott were on the ground fighting. We have to hear Slager's version of the story. Maybe he shouldn't have shot Scott int he back, but we weren't there. Why did Scott run? Do all black men think it is OK to run from the police all the time? How can some of you claim that Slager just decided to go out and murder someone? Do you really think Slager wanted this outcome? Are you a police officer?
DR (New England)
You don't have to be a police officer to know that murdering someone is wrong.
Elder Watson Diggs (Brooklyn)

I have little doubt that had Feidin Santana only witnessed the shooting rather than record the event on his cell phone camera, his testimony would have been discredited by the police and local judicial system. The police and prosecutor would say" the crime scene evidence and the accounts are in conflict with Mr.Santana's testimony." Sounds very impartial and scientific. Most fair minded folks would give the police the benefit of the doubt. The fact than the second cop who arrived on the scene was a witness to evidence tampering and said nothing is telling. If the second officer is to claim she did not see her colleague alter the crime scene, she should resign from the police force.
Zannah (Tallahassee)
Maybe our police forces should have their lethal weapons taken away. There was never a need for a weapon when Mr. Scott ran after being stopped by Mr. Slager for a non-working taillight. No one's life was in danger. Certainly not Mr. Slager's. And yet he fired eight shots in a fleeing man's back. I still cannot fathom it. Did some primordial prey instinct overwhelm him? If so, he never should have been a police officer authorized to use deadly force. I read a news report recently that last month police killed more than 100 citizens in this country. What will the numbers for April be?
fritzrxx (Portland Or)
A regular, all-round good guy? Looks like police responsibility was too big for him. Slager emptied his weapon into Scott.

Even one round into fleeing Scott's leg would have been indefensible, but enough to stop him.

What is the message here? Blame the Police Department? Blame society?
Mike (Newport News, VA)
This incident is not cut and dry as most people and the media imply. When I first viewed the video of the shooting I was appalled and disgusted. As more information about the incident timeline became available my opinion concerning the culpability for the death of Mr. Scott shifted from a solo perspective to a shared perspective. Let me explain. If one reviews the appropriateness of actions / reactions from the moment the vehicle stop began to just before the shooting (post shooting actions are indefensible) Mr. Slager’s reactions would be deemed appropriate within the boundaries of acceptable law enforcement responses, i.e., when Mr. Scott fled from the vehicle stop Mr. Slager gave pursuit; when Mr. Slager employed non-lethal force (Tasar) he vocalized its use; and Mr. Slager then issued commands to Mr Scott to get down on the ground. The witness to this incident provided a statement that indicates Mr. Slager had command and control over Mr. Scott prior to Mr. Scott resisting arrest and fleeing. To be clear the shooting was in no way appropriate and Mr. Slager will answer for that aspect of the incident. However, Mr. Scott (IMO) had control over his actions and at various waypoints during this incident could have changed its course by way of compliance. We may never truly know what was going through Mr. Slager’s mind when Mr. Scott broke free and ran, but based on the incident storyline provided to date I believe Mr. Scott played a significant role in the outcome.
BC (greensboro VT)
Maybe Mr. Scott ran because he was a black man in fear of his life from a white police officer. As it turns out he was right.
Peter Chandler (NY)
Actually Mike - everything you say supports murder 1, malice aforethought. According to you Slager was in command of the situation and in command of Scott, his victim or prospective arrestee. It's only when Scott runs away again, that instead of giving chase at this point Slager, by your own scenario, concludes, "I've tried the prescribed methods, now I can shoot to kill." The fact that this is murder under the circumstances seems not to register upon Slager except to the extent that he is cognizant of the need to establish a planted weapon as an alibi immediately upon securing the dying Scott with handcuffs. The significant role in the outcome played by Scott was in dying after trying to get away from a guy who only wanted to taze him a little.
Michael (Weaverville, NC)
Sorry, Mike, that just doesn't wash. Nothing we know from the dashcam video or from witness statements indicates any justification for shooting an unarmed man in the back. Officer Slager cannot possibly use the all-too-familiar excuse "I feared for my life" to get out of this one. On the contrary, I suspect that Mr Scott saw or sensed something in Officer Slager's demeanor that day which made him fear for his own life. Running from arrest carries legal penalties but summary execution is not among them.
Judyw (cumberland, MD)
Let's hear the Police Officer's story. We should not make up out mind based on a cell phone video which does not tell the whole story. Stop jumping to conclusions - like all the posters are. Lets hear ALL the evidence.
TerryReport com (Lost in the wilds of Maryland)
Tasers should be banned from police departments nationwide. They are almost nothing but trouble.

The Taser in this situation was the object that touched off the shooting. Walter Scott obviously didn't want to be Tased and, when he couldn't get hold of the weapon, he ran. And died.

Tasers, big money makers for the company that manufactures and sells them, were supposed to be a way to avoid lethal violence. Instead, they give officers a way to assert power over citizens without the inherent risks that guns involve. Tasers are too easy and police are too quick to use them in virtually all situations they encounter. "Talk back to me! You're down on your knees, dude."

Tasers represent an easy, convenient way to escalate violence against citizens, rather than a way to reduce it.

The first step in dealing with them should be for all police departments to put people on administrative leave, just like in a shooting, after a Taser event. The next step should be for police departments to keep an open record of Taser firing. The third should be for police chiefs and commanders to tell their officers to reduce Taser use by 50%. Failing that, they should be banned. They do not belong in a free and open society where citizens are allowed to speak their minds.
Ella (U.S.)
Having a non-lethal method of disabling a suspect who is perceived as a threat is a bad thing? Please.
lisa (atlanta)
"Walter Scott obviously didn't want to be Tased and, when he couldn't get hold of the weapon, he ran. And died.", there is nothing to corroborate slager's assertion that mr. scott took or even tried to take his taser. in fact, the evidence seems to more suggest that mr. scott was actually tased before he ran. ... other than that, i agree with your comment.
emily (Portland, OR)
Agreed, just one quibble: we don't know that Walter Scott tried to take the Taser. According to the 2 witnesses we've heard from, Scott was under control and not resisting.

For some reason he started to run again - whether it was because he was tased, or because Slager said something to him, we may never know. The only witness who claimed Scott went for the Taser, though, was Slager.
northlander (michigan)
I have worked with a number of police departments, many elite and highly trained officers whom I respect. I was surprised, in the light of these incidents, how many have been decades on the force and have never fired their service weapon at a suspect. Many entered the force before recent severe training on handling confrontations became common. They simply did not shoot, chose to wait for backup, talked the suspect down, or found a way to conclude the incident without firing. Those who had used their weapon were convinced it had been the very last thing they could have done, had preserved their lives or someone else's, and yet had made that decision quickly under pressure. Police aren't saints, to be sure, but as they are trained over and over again, "the weapon that will kill you is the one you are wearing."
TerryReport com (Lost in the wilds of Maryland)
The fact that there are both sides to this story, perhaps many sides, should not cause us to ignore the idea that there are good, restrained officers AND others who are too quick to use force of violence. When I used to hang out with the Dallas police force during my time as a reporter in the city long ago, they told me harrowing tales of some officers who obviously were mentally imbalanced in one way or another. Even without that factor, however, there are many others pushing police to be violent toward citizens. The fact that they control all of the evidence post shooting, that there are usually not any other reliable witnesses and they almost always get off without indictment or punishment are all factors that allow those prone to violence to use it.

Police officers believe they must have the respect, even deference, from citizens. Then, many insist that if they don't get it, they will take it. I wonder if that is what flashed through officer Scott's mind: "you will not defy me"? This is the confirmed mentality of many officers and you don't have to be a genius to figure it out.
Jim ONeill (Hillsboro, Ill.)
In today's world school children have to face "zero tolerance" policies resulting in punishment far outweighing the so-called offense. Maybe the same policy should apply to our police force. It is time to end the blue wall of silence. Tasering a 6 foot 3 man while looking for a 5-5 five burglar certainly says enough about Slager
Eric (NYC)
this says a whole lot about the police culture & review process that "exonerated" him. It is so difficult to tolerate the endless excuses these departments make to pardon the long pattern of evil deeds often committed by these racist cops. More sadly, it appears that it is often the honorable police, judges & prosecutors who enable this reckless & deadly behavior to continue because they refuse to allow any reasonable corrective actions or reforms o take place.
Gregory H. (Chicago)
And yet again, we get a personal interest story to humanize the murdering police officer. This is standard media playbook. Immediately dig up anything negative in the past of the victim - no matter how trivial or how old - and simultaneously prepare a humanizing piece for the offending cop - telling us what a great person he was, free of trouble, loving and giving.
TerryReport com (Lost in the wilds of Maryland)
I would like to echo your comments in that someone unknown, a Joe on the street, who is accused of doing something horrid is almost always profiled negatively. Every single thing that person ever did that was seen in a negative light is suddenly brought into play.

Another recent trend in news reporting is to include personal or minor court disputes in every story about a person who is accused of doing something wrong. Shoot at someone? Hey, an unpaid bill is suddenly relevant or what the person did in third grade ("He was once accused of pushing down a girl on the playground in third grade.") These are shorthand "character studies" in which a reporter follows public sentiment and reenforces it.

Yeah, I'd like to see what a good guy someone is who now sits on death row. Humanizes them, right?

I suppose the origin of this piece is the mere curiosity about who the accused officer is and the reporter was unable to find anything remarkable about his past. We are all amateur psychologists these days.

Who cares what people thought of this officer growing up? He appears, by all indications, to have shot and killed another human being so he could assert his "authority" as a police officer.
Raker (Boston)
Is that the plan, to defend this guy with euphemisms and queen-for-a-day sob stories? It would be funny if it weren't so appalling to suggest that his act of murder is mitigated because he was once a sad boy whose parents got divorced. Shameless.

"Those eight shots?" "Those eight entry wounds" is more like it. They were shots fired into the back of a man as he ran away, after no more provocation than his running from the police in fear over his owing child support. Good luck collecting that child support now.

And if the cop hadn't killed him, it should have been scandalous enough and a firing offense that he reached for the torture device we call a tazer without a thought, and also without sufficient provocation. That's not a sign of a gentle and quiet man, it is the sign of a sadist. I might have run too.
AH (Illinois)
His neighbor says 'I think something happened in training'. I don't know anyone in this case but I do know something about police training; I ran a library in a university police training academy for several years and had occasional discussions with the trainers. They were all clear that using a gun was a last resort; one man, formerly a sheriff in a southern state, said he had only drawn his gun once in a long career. This was in the 1970s; clearly the training emphasis has changed. I read of far too many police using a gun when none is used against them; fear is usually their excuse. I think police training needs to emphasize thinking before drawing a gun, and letting people get away, especially if their name is known. I suspect there is too much pressure to 'get your man' and too much emphasis on self-protection, when these do not really apply to the situation the police are in.
ibivi (Toronto ON Canada)
In the past most police worked in teams of two. Years ago that was changed. Maybe that accounts for their over reactions. They are more fearful because they are more vulnerable. And many more people have guns than ever before. As well, they are doing community policing which targets minor offenses (nuisance issues) but they are applying heavy-handed tactics instead of moderating how they deal with lesser crimes.
Anne (London)
Mandatory body cameras on all law officers is a no-brainer. Can one imagine how many more cases like this occurred over the decade?

Deeper issues are involved here. The officer's report said they administered CPR...this was a lie.
The officers' report said the victim was not running and shot in the back...this was a lie.

Yesterday on "Meet the Press", a study showed that body-cams on officers dropped abuse complaints by 88%!

The brave young Dominican man who video taped this shooting tried to give the tape to the police station at first but they dismissed him. He took the tape public. This was a murder, thank God for cameras.
john kelley (corpus christi, texas)
our former police chief changed the uniforms to black, "to be more intimidating". when the police become militarized, the people become the enemy.
Bruce Watson (Leverett, MA)
It is refreshing to read of police finally understanding that not everyone who wears blue is deserving of their lockstep defense. Meanwhile, many of us continue to wonder: whatever happened to warning shots?
Kay Johnson (Colorado)
Putting a person with poor social skills and a gun out as the community interface with the police dept just has to stop. We have very little cultural value invested in police being grown ups with judgment anymore. The departments and the police union has obviously created an environment of not holding people accountable no matter what the community said. This is a gang mentality. You had to actually have it on tape to be believed.

The officer who shot Michael Brown had a similar background of broken home and social awkwardness and felt like Brown was like "the Hulk" when he confronted Brown. These guys don't have enough self awareness to even know themselves under stress, much less diffuse anything. The Police Union guys in NYC after the Garner case seem totally off in another world where martial law seems reasonable and Americans are The Enemy. The whole thing is depressing- right down to Slager's mom. This is to the bone.
PK (Atlanta)
There is a big difference in the cases of Michael Brown and Walter Scott. Michael Brown was rushing towards the officer and dwarfed the office in size - the shooting was justified. Walter Scott was running away from the officer, hence the outrage.
Jim O'Leary (New York)
This story portrays both police culture and American culture as a whole. We are told not to back down, not to show weakness, to 'stand your ground'. It's in our sports culture, our songs, our legal system. The NRA preach swagger and bravado daily. For a police officer to give chase to a suspect is to show weakness. He is lowering himself to the level of the suspect. Some people seem to believe that it is unreasonable for the officer to stoop to that level. When police shot a man to death in Washington State after he threw rocks and ran from them, observers said that he disobeyed orders to stop, giving the police no other options. When a police officer shot a naked, unarmed and mentally ill black man in Atlanta last month, a bystander said that the man refused to stop giving the officer no other choice.
Police training needs to teach the many alternatives to the use of deadly force. That they are expected to stay fit and capable of running in pursuit. That it is acceptable to step out of range of a man throwing rocks. They should be commended when they defuse a tense situation and face dire consequences when they kill an unarmed individual.
Keith Ferlin (Canada)
Apparently there are many Police Departments that think they are at war and the enemy is the citizens they are supposed to protect. Then to further the idea that they are at war they are given the hand me downs from the military. America is on it's way to becoming a police state if those things don't change.
DatMel (Manhattan)
A significant percentage of the population believes that bombing is a better option than negotiating.
georgebaldwin (Florida)
IO want to see the 2nd officer on the scene, an African American by the way, charged with Conspiracy to Obstruct Justice for not reporting that Slager planted the taser next to the body and for not rebutting Slager's obviously fabricated version of the incident. He's an embarrassment as a police officer and a disgrace as an African American. Was he afraid he'd lose his job if he told the truth about Slager? Maybe if he's facing prison he'll get his memory back and roll over on Slager, as he should have at the outset.
William Case (Texas)
No one knows what the black cop did or did not report. We don’t if he saw Slager drop something near Scott’s body. No one knows what Slager told investigators either. All we know is that told the police dispatcher that Scott had taken his Taser. The video supports this claim. It shows two darts lodged in Slager uniform and the wires trailing behind Scott as he runs, an indication that Scott still had the Taser when he was shot. Some experts have identified the item that falls to the ground as the two are struggling as the Taser’s trigger housing. Perhaps Slager picked up the trigger housing and dropped it near Scott’s body to make it appear as though the two were close together when the shots were fired, but we don’t know if this is what Slager told investigators. We will have to wait and se.
Karen (New York)
Something somewhere went terribly wrong inside that man and nobody picked up on it. Very few people get up one morning and decide to murder someone o we don't know what triggered this. Meanwhile, someone is dead who should not be, Slager's life is ruined and two families have been changed forever. It's tragic but lessons can be learned. They won't redeem the disaster but may prevent ones in the future.
RT1 (Princeton, NJ)
What went wrong was a scuffle over a taser that didn't produce the desired result of incapacitating the fleeing Walter Scott. With an adrenaline addled brain Slager went for the next thing on his belt with disastrous results for both of them. Absolutely bad training had a role in this. Just as car chases have been restricted because of the deaths that have occurred so should "take the criminal down by any means necessary". He had the man's ID. So what if the "perp" ran away. Pick him up later at home or on his job.
William (Oregon)
Even the NYT discounts the death of a black man - the headline says it all. Slager isn't being scorned for "8 shots", he is being scorned for killing an unarmed person, by shooting them in the back as they ran away. How about "After arbitrary execution of citizen in North Charlston, Michel Slager is scorned" ?

And what relevance are Mr Scott's child payments to this killing? Why is this information even mentioned in this article? Mr Scott was stopped for a broken traffic light, and then killed while fleeing. Does his back child support and other interactions with the law somehow mitigate the policeman's action? Did Mr Slager slay Scott because of this knowledge?
hen3ry (New York)
No, Mr. Slager did not wake up and plan to shoot Mr. Scott in the back. He did not intend to become the latest in a list of officers who make the news for precisely the wrong reason. He did not plan to be fired or charged with murder. He is and how he got to that point could be very instructive for future police officers. It could be that there is a culture of bringing in the suspect no matter what. It could be that he lost it and felt that Mr. Scott deserved to shot for running away from him.

Two lives have been altered and those alterations have affected others. One man's family will never see him alive again. They will have to live with insinuations from outsiders that this man deserved to be shot for being stupid and running away. It was probably the fact that he was driving while black. The other man, an officer, will have to deal with being fired as a cop, the unjustified shooting of a man, and the scorn of others. However, he is alive to tell his side of the story. Mr. Scott, like Trayvon Martin, Michael Brown, Tamir Rice, and others, is dead and people can say whatever they want about him. He cannot defend himself any longer. That's what death deprives people of: the opportunity to defend themselves and their lives.
mikenh (Nashua, N.H.)
No, I completely disagree with you.

I think Mr. Slager, like so many police these days, did wake up with a plan to shoot someone today, especially if his victim was a person of color.

Because, these days our "New New Centurion" police view the streets as "war zones" and the general public, especially those of color, as "enemy combatants."
Michael (NYC)
I would like to know how many (if any) past suspects were shot, dead, by Slager. As an aside: I find it offensive The New York Times did this humanizing, PR piece on Slager and the victim was reduced to a blurb of bullet points. The video speaks volumes for Slager - the PR piece by By FRANCES ROBLES, ALAN BLINDER and JASON GRANT does not.
PFB (Atlanta, GA)
Please save the "he's so respectful...caring...shy...a nice boy..." story. There's a video proving the exact opposite, I don't care what his mommy and some random neighbor have to say about it. There is no justification for murder; millions of people grow up in worse circumstances without murdering people. Some people, like Michael Slager, are just cold-blooded murderers. And please quit blaming everything on mental illness, what an insult to people who actually deal with mental illnesses and live productive, murder-free lives.
Officer Slager's fragmented upbringing reminds me of that of Officer Darren Wilson's. And I can see how a career in law enforcement would offer dignity and structure to an individual from an inconsistent background. As for the unwarranted killing taken by Mr. Slager, thorough training and refresher courses are needed to deter individuals from wrongly using force. And when they take the law into their own hands, as Officer Slager did, they are then on their own legally and morally.
John Doe (NY, NY)
The fact that Slager so quickly planted evidence demonstrates that he either discussed this type of incident with other officers, or premeditated a cover-up in his own mind.
William Case (Texas)
It's unclear that Officer Slager planted evidence. The video shows an item falling to the ground as Scott and Slager struggle. Some experts have identified the item as the trigger housing for the Taser. However, the video shoes two darts lodged in Slager's clothing and the Taser wires are trailing behind Scott as he runs, indicating that Scott still has the Taser. This backs up Slager's claim that Scott took his Taser. The video appears to show Slager picking up what might be the trigger housing and dropping it near the body. So, one could theorize that Slager intended to claim that he shot Scott while the two were still physically engage, but no one knows what Slager told investigators. We'll have to wait and see.
rakenny (Boston)
Is there an additional form of stereotyping in this story? The front page of the NYTimes uses the phrase, "adjust from a BROKEN HOME." Is there any connection between making late child support a major crime and getting shot in the back by an officer raised in a "broken home? Why are we using that phrase on the front page? Does anyone wonder how statements like that impact children whose parents are divorced?
Kevin M. (Tokyo)
The most damning part of this tragedy in relation to the police force's general mentality is the second, black officer who arrived and did not help the victim and who transcribed what are arguably false statements from Mr.Slager. Is it a mere coincidence that the officer following up was acting as an accomplice in covering up Mr. Slager's wrongdoing? I think not and I think there are many many other officers out there who would do the same. That is the crux of this story. What should such a realization lead us to do next?
Jack (NY)
Why dont we run stories of emotional families of every cold blooded murderer ? Its a disgrace that media choose to portray perp as quiet, calm, upholding citizen. Every cold blooded and child molester has a mother, family and kids too. One look at that video and you know he shot the man like a mad dog. He deserves death penalty.
David (London)
Just watched the video again.
The very beginning of it shows Scott in a crouched position by a black object on the ground. I presume it's the Taser. Slager is standing. Scott rises, turns and runs off. At that point, Scott starts to shoot.
Later in the video, Slager returns to pick up the black object. He returns to Scotts body and drops it on the ground nearby. This has been interpreted by some as "a plant". However, later in the video, Slager bends down, picks up an object from the ground, and places it in a holster. Is this the Taser?
While none of this excuses shooting a man who is running away and is not known to be a danger to the public, it provides a different perspective on the circumstances.
Helen Michel (Florida, USA)
Another tragedy. Where did Mr. Slager learn to so casually shot a man in the back then plant evidence? Someone taught him.
BBBear (Green Bay)
Police officials are concerned that the actions of a few cops are ruining the reputations of all cops, that people believe most cops are corrupt, and that moral is down in police departments nationwide. Perhaps now, police can begin to understand the longstanding plight of minorities.
Air Marshal of Bloviana (Over the Fruited Plain)
Stand by for the articles on why black fathers aren't parents, why we can't get enforcement behind child support and why it is wrong to run from the law. They are on temporary hold.
Jordan (Melbourne Fl.)
and these aren't legitimate topics of discussion why?
Linds (Tucson)
So cops should be allowed to shoot fleeing suspects in cold blood? None of the offenses you list are capital.
Bethannm (connecticut)
I think the question of why he was running away is a valid one. I think only a very stupid person runs away from the police, or a very guilty one.

I don't think 8 shots to the back is a good solution for capturing a fleeing, unarmed person.
What a terrible shame. While there is no excuse for firing a weapon at someone 8 times, make no mistake that Mr. Slager did not ask for this and Mr. Scott, a low-life, who not only has crimes on record, failed to comply with the most basic police request, to stay seated in his car. It was embarrassing to the funeral with the American flag adorned on his coffin like some kind of war vet that just championed our freedom, yet he was cheat and did care for his children. Nice job, guys. You'll make what you want of it, but it's wrong.

This is one of those moments that drives me nuts, were the narrative is totally false and this is an event that should never have happened. An event, manufactured 100% by Mr. Scott and now, there will be a wife left unattended and a child raised without a father (as Mr. Slager sits in jail for the rest of his life).

It's just so incredibly sad this result was due to once again, someone either evading basic police requests or resisting arrest. I know NYTimes, you want to change the narrative and claim it's about the "police tactics against Blacks", but as the 2nd video shows, Mr. Slager had every reason to stop Mr. Scott and frankly, was very cordial in the process. I say its time to give the Democrats what they want, their cake and to eat it. Let the criminals and low-lifes run the asylum and give it a couple years. We'll clean up the mess another time, but to be sure, Mr. Slager didn't sign up for this result and don't ever forget that.
Ozark Homesteader (Arkansas)
We long ago ended the death penalty in this country for all but the most serious crimes, and we also require trial by jury or confession to convict someone in a death penalty case. Your arguments about Scott are simply specious.
Avarren (Oakland)
Being behind on child support, having a broken taillight, or even resisting arrest does not warrant the death penalty. The choice to shoot was 100% manufactured by Officer Slager. Mr. Scott broke the law, yes, but he certainly didn't deserve to die for it.
Michael (NYC)
Uhm, okay. Well, whatever. But, perhaps you might comment on the 8 shots in the back, the handcuffing a dying or dead man, the planting of evidence and the "various" statements Slager has given authorities.
Mr. Robin P Little (Conway, SC)

The press sure is getting a lot of mileage out of this case of gross police misconduct. Whatever happened within Mr. Slager on the day he killed Mr. Scott is not something even he is aware of, if we believe his mother, who spoke to him while he was in jail. He should be scared to death because his old life is over. His police union knows police officers can't just go around shooting suspects to death. It doesn't take a bunch of geniuses to figure this out.

Mr. Slager is not somebody who should be a police officer, if that isn't obvious already. I hope he does some serious jail time after getting a fair trial. He doesn't know who he is and needs plenty of time to ponder this riddle.

Meanwhile, the black-white morality play keeps getting written by the predominantly Northern liberal press. Can we give this story a rest, please? What if Mr. Scott had been white? Would the press being making such a big fuss about this case? I doubt it. This could have happened anywhere in the U.S., and actually, if you look at how many police officers have killed people in the past 10 years in the U.S. while supposedly arresting them, it has happened quite often.
Number23 (New York)
"What if Mr. Scott had been white? Would the press being making such a big fuss about this case? I doubt it."

Me too. The NY Times rarely covers routine traffic stops, which is likely what this incident would have been had Mr. Scott been white.

Of course, not every police shooting involving a black man is unjustified or motivated by race. And, yes, white police officers, I imagine, recklessly kill white people, too. But to pretend there isn't a black/white issue between the police and the community it serves just means you're not paying attention.

Why is it whenever a single member of a minority does something despicable his/her actions are ascribed to the entire ethnic community, but when a member of the minority does something similar it's always an isolated incident?
W84me (Armonk, NY)
Had Mr. Scott been white, it is far less likely that Mr. Slager would have been so quick on the trigger. Of course, we'll never know this, but in light of all the white cop/black victim shootings of late, the "liberal" press are doing their job.
jwp-nyc (new york)
Ah yes - the liberal press should just move on - nothing to see here folks. If the victim hadn't been black, and the police officer hadn't been white, and if the victim hadn't been shot eight times in the back, and if the event hadn't been video recorded, and if Officer Slagel had no been caught on tape picking up and planting the taser, why there would be nothing to talk about!!! This is all being manufactured by the elite, Northern Media to embarrass and humiliate the proud white south. Just another way to trick us into having our police nationalized and our guns taken away by this Black Kenyan President. Did I miss anything? Anymore right-wing talking points?
Nick (Chicago)
“I see him as a child of divorce,” Mrs. Shay said. “And I think that may have had an impact on him, if he was a sensitive person, and he struck me as kind of sensitive — shy and a bit quiet. He did want to talk to you and be polite. It didn’t come easy for him.”

I realize that Mrs. Shay said this, not the NYT. Let's hope the readers of this story, the subject of which is under deep scrutiny and locked into an extreme circumstance with heavy consequences, don't turn this into a witch hunt on people who have divorced parents. Having divorced parents does not a killer make. The NYT readers, I can only assume, will be so discerning.
james thompson (houston,texas)
Is it forbidden to shoot at a person who is running from arrest after
clearly committing grand theft auto? If not, then abolish the police
force and default to vigilance committees.
Peter (San Francisco)
Yes, it is forbidden Texas Jim. The Supreme Court has said that we cannot apply the death penalty for theft. And we cannot apply it without giving someone a trial. Oh, and also, ya can't kill 'em before you place them under arrest.
klo (NYC)
Huh??? "...clearly committing grand theft auto"?
Has it been established, that Mr. Scott was driving a vehicle he had stolen?
If not, then you've surmised something others have yet to learn and may be libeling a dead man.

And to the NYT, what does Mr. Scott's child support issues have to do with this story?
While he may have run because of it, he wasn't stopped because of it.
We don't know why he ran and will never know because he was shot in the back by an overzealous police officer.
George (NY State)
Yes it is. Supreme court 1985.
Karen McKim (Wisconsin)
One line in this article gives me hope: “We both believe that something happened in the training,” Mrs. Shay said. “She agrees with me...this is not Michael at all.”

My hope: that there is a trial and that the defense aggressively puts police training and police culture on trial. Last night, our local police chief appeared before a community group in our village and spoke honestly with us about the aggressive, violent culture that has taken over many police departments. Unfortunately, he offered us very few suggestions about what citizens could do about it, beyond lobbying our state authorities to add conflict de-escalation techniques to required training. But a high-profile trial shining a national spotlight on the culture of entitled violence within a police department--that could do it.
anthony weishar (Fairview Park, OH)
This article points to a problem that no one wants to address, the mental health of people who can have a serious effect on our lives. Law enforcement personnel at all levels can cause physical harm. Politicians are constantly legislating our quality of life and the levels of surveillance and force used on civilians. There is some psychological evaluation in law enforcement, but none in politics.

It is obvious that we need much better judgement of the mental health of law enforcement personnel. The shootings are a strong argument for it. The criminal behavior of our Secret Service officers is the best example of how weak the screening is. As we read the description of Mr. Slager's background, we have to wonder what emotional baggage he carrying. That stuff comes out sideways in anger directed at innocent people.

Politicians speak for themselves. We elect addicts, dry drunks, sexual predators, Narcissists, and people with dementia. They all get a free ride. Pass a physical that says you are not dead, and you get to inflict your ignorance and mental incompetence on millions.

It's time to legislate sanity into law enforcement and politics.
ibivi (Toronto ON Canada)
I understand that the police no longer conduct psychological evaluations they way they did in the past. We are seeing a younger generation of police who seem much more willing to draw their weapons and use them at the slightest provocation by anyone "resisting" police commands. And the racial bias among them is very appalling and disheartening. Police culture needs to change. Too often we hear an "us versus them" attitude. They don't respect civilians and that mentality is evident in the encounters we have seen captured on videos. They must change their shoot-to-kill training. For too long they have ignored community demands to change many of their practices and abuses. It is time for them to listen or be fired. The justice system also must find them liable for their actions and put them in jail when they murder the young, the mentally ill, those who are afraid of them (with good reason), etc, etc.
Graham K. (San Jose, CA)
This profile is remarkably similar to the one the NYT wrote about Darren Wilson. And the whitewashing of the victim's character - "He had been arrested about 10 times, mostly for minor offenses" (no need to mention that 20% of those charges were for assault, lol) - is similar to how Michael Brown's character was whitewashed.

For those of you interested in more than wish fulfillment and confirmation bias based journalism, this is what the future holds... Similar to how officers were acquitted after the grand jury hearings and trials after the killing of Michael Brown, Tamir Rice, Eric Garner and even the assault of Rodney King, Slager is either going to be acquitted or will plead down to a lesser charge. Despite how bad the video looks, it helps confirm his story - that he thought Scott had possession of his taser. Per Tennessee v Garner, he was within his right to shoot Scott, even though he was fleeing.

Kudos to North Charleston for temporarily staving off the riots to come by charging Slager with murder and dismissing him - especially with the onset of Charleston's tourism season. But sometime next fall or winter when the verdict comes down, the riots will come, and they'll be huge.

And just like the Darren Wilson "no true bill" finding and the NYPD acquittal, writers and readers of the NYT will act surprised and outraged, and as the latter take to the streets the former will be there to cover them, and sell coverage on them back to them. What a business model!
Erich (VT)
The video of the officer retrieving and planting the taser rather conflicts with your presentation, and will ultimately be the key piece of evidence leading to a conviction on second degree murder, or at the very least, manslaughter.
Student (New York, NY)
If we consider what happened, it's clear that his EMT training did not stick. He saunters over after fatally wounding a man and fails to even attempt to medically evaluate, let alone stabilize.

What's sad is that he, and many other frightened and limited young men and women, are given the responsibility of a gun and a badge in an armed society rife with paranoia. What do we expect?
Blue State (here)
How many people who shoot someone 8 times in the back are going to administer CPR? What if the guy lives to dispute the tale you're going to have to tell to cover the whole thing up? CPR is a joke to people looking to get in some stick time, some taser tag, or get off a few rounds 'because they're afraid.'
dogsecrets (GA)
I think his action after the subject shot on the ground, just ZERO care for the person no attempt to aid or check to see if he alive, just away the other offices handle they did everything but high5 each other. It the shame they have no respect for another human.

This is a nationwide police problem every city and state has turn the police into a source of revenue nothing more. We watch every day police pulling people over for speeding they watch those same cops speed all around town, to and from work. Asset forfeiture laws where all the cops want is there share of the pie.
The police have this attitude it them against the world and when you mess with the blue we are going to beat you up. No where is the more of a problem then CA, eleven cops to beat a guy for over 2 mins they all could not wait to jump in and hit a person is tie up, of course we know how this will end the courts will let them off
William Case (Texas)
The video shows police officers applying life saving procedures.

Virtually all cities, including Ferguson, Missouri, lose money on law enforcement. The City of Ferguson posts its budget online. Last fiscal year, Ferguson took in total revenues of $19.1 million, of which $2.7 million, or 14 percent, came from fines, including traffic fines, and seizures. However, the Ferguson Police Department reported expenditures of $5.3 million while the Ferguson Municipal Court reported expenditures of $353,000. So, the Ferguson Police Department operates at a significant loss to be made up by sales taxes and property taxes. Law enforcement is not a “profit-center” for the City of Ferguson. The assertion that cities typically use police to fun municipal operations is a lie.
pjc (Cleveland)
Too many people think in abstractions. The job is this, the people on the street are this, and the people in uniform or this.

But all these cases -- from Trayvon, to Tamir, to Michael, to Eric, to Walter -- the entire point is, this individuals are not abstract. They are individuals, individual people. And the encounters, they were particular, they were very specific events. And the job, it too should have been specific, individual, not abstract.

If we treat each other as abstract things, each of us become abstract possibilities. And so the officer's job, taken abstractly as "the danger of fighting crime," replaces the specific sensibility that should have governed how to roll up to a 12 year old in a city gazebo. And the people on the street become stereotypes and people with records, instead of individuals at that moment and at that time, and watching that video of Michael Slater, especially his actions after he put 8 shots into the body of Walter Scott, seemed like the behavior of an abstracted man, following his proticols, as a man lay dying face down in the mud.

Being distracted is bad. Being abstracted is one of the worst forms of distraction, because one is lost in generalizations and hypotheticals. And in my city, distraction because of abstraction led to a 12 year old being gunned downed in 4 seconds.

People speak of "police need more training." We need the right kind of training. Training that stops how abstractly we think of each other.
Doris (Indianapolis, IN)
Well said! Thank you.
wlogsdon (Hernando, Fl.)
It strikes me as amazing that one or two law enforcement officers cannot subdue or detain a suspect without the use of deadly force. If they are so frightened for their own safety then they need to seek another line of work. Rigid psychological evaluation should be an ongoing part of their conditions for employment if they are not already but especially before a gun and badge are handed out.
susanj (kansas)
I attribute the rise of killing persons of color by cops to George Zimmerman's acquittal. He was just a wannabe or rent-a-cop and he successfully "slimed" the victim, Trayvon Martin. Had there been no video, the same thing would have happened to Mr. Scott.

This rise in cop killings may slow now that the cop has been arrested and presumably will be charged.

The cop here, at 32, would have won any footchase against Mr. Scott at 50. It was pure laziness and an idea that he would get away with it, that lead the cop to shoot instead of chase.
Mrs Logan (Royal Oak, MI)
In addition to pure laziness and an idea that he would get away with it, there was also an extremely evident lack of value placed on Mr. Scott's life by Mr. Slager. It seems apparent that he didn't believe "black lives matter." Ironically, they both had stints in the Coast Guard. So, there was some shared background that Mr. Slager never knew. Maybe he would have recognized Mr. Scott's humanity if they'd run into each other back then. We will never know. But I do know that in order to get to that level of disregard for human life you have to be carefully taught. Whether it was his upbringing, community, military, the police academy, or a combination of all of them, his instructors did a bang up job.
Air Marshal of Bloviana (Over the Fruited Plain)
For all his unrecognized humanity, good and bad, Mr. Zimmerman did an outstanding job as a neighborhood watch captain.
Hope (WA)
I just heard the audio of Slager actually laughing while talking to the other officer after he had just shot Walter Scott in the back. He's a sociopath. His childhood damage may be sad but Slager's actions point to far darker issues.
Iced Teaparty (NY)
When you have mass repression of blacks as the US certainly does, you need masses of police to keep the population in check or in jail or in court. What the United States needs instead is social and economic policy. When you have social policy and no longer need masses of police forces you can be more selective in your police hires. Quite clearly, the police are a rough cut, cut out more for the task of military repression than policing. We need to go back to a more friendly society of "one for all all for one." We don't need squad cars outfitted for combat, we don't need the kind of police we have--and you probably know what I mean.
Doris (Indianapolis, IN)
Some Squad cars are outfitted for combat mainly because of gun proliferation at its peak. Civilians possess high powered guns now, and the NRA will never allow a gun control legislation that would curtail the ownership of this high-powered weapons that most Police Departments don't have.
Iced Teaparty (NY)
Excellent point Doris.
easi-lee (West Orange)
Make law enforcement public service and break the blue wall of silence. Police have forgotten who they serve. This article exists for one reason only: to humanize a cop who has done something inhuman. I'm not sure why we need this, except for the obvious reason that the NYT is part of an institutional racism that pervades everything in this country. Slager needs to be punished. This article will create doubt in the mind of a juror. Wait. Who am I kidding? This is South Carolina. He will probably be found not guilty by a jury of the hateful. He might get a promotion from this.
outis (no where)
Best comment here. I too wondered what the purpose of this article was except to humanize this officer -- who laughed over the body of the man he shot in the back for no good reason, after not making the least effort to provide CPR.
Peter (Boulder, CO)
Just like the "jury of the hateful" in NYC that acquitted garner's killers? seems like region has little to do with it.
Robert B (Brooklyn, NY)
A revolting article. The primary image is not of the shooting, but of Slager’s mother, palms together in prayer, as she tells of her son living in fear. Slager, unlike the victim Mr. Scott, is alive. The video establishes that Slager certainly wasn't fearful at the time of the shooting. The article gives a highly edited biography of Slager; yarns of the good guy who mysteriously slipped. There's also a truncated, edited, and biased biography of the victim. All we're only told is that Scott owed child support, hadn't yet registered a car, and had a warrant for the child support. Do we shoot people in the back for that? The writers dug up all the dirt they could about the victim yet only briefly mentioned that there were previous complaints against Slager. Deliberately omitted is that the complaints establish Slager's well-documented history of highly violent behavior. In contrast, the victim had no history of violent behavior, (the writers would have led with it if they'd found anything). We have the tale of the Boy Scout and the criminal; it’s beyond deceptive, it’s disgusting. Slager didn't kill Scott, he executed him. Slager took his time, shooting a fleeing man with no history of violence in the back 8 times. Slager then calmly rearranged the crime scene so as to frame the victim. The execution was premeditated and the officer who aided him is, pursuant to law, and accessory after the fact. He should therefore not only be charged with obstruction, but with murder as well.
emily (Portland, OR)
Thank you! I particular, I found it very odd that the writers brushed so lightly over the prior excessive force complaints against Slager.

From the more in-depth story the regarding Slager's assault on Mario Givens (the man he mistook for a burglary suspect, despite a 10 inch height difference and the victim shouting that he had the wrong man), Slager clearly had a more violent side than is described here. Refer to Huffington Post, April 9,
Miss ABC (NJ)
I am glad that he was caught red-handed the first time he murders on the job.

But the cool way he watched Mr. Scott die and the fact that he had enough presence of mind to frame the victim, makes me think that this may not be Slager's first murder...
Donald Forbes (Boston Ma.)
He certainly should be shunned but I was wondering about the police union not defending him. I thought a union has a fiduciary duty to defend their members no matter what they did.
Doris (Indianapolis, IN)
I'm sure the union has also the disposition to NOT defend its members if they commit a crime like this.
Tom (Nebraska)
Countless police shootings and countless journalistic post-mortems focus on the seemingly senseless number of rounds fired. It's about time, I think, for these stories to note, prominently, that several generations of police-training academies have emphasized -- in essence -- that if you start firing, you should keep pulling the trigger. A great deal of explanation, and perhaps pathway toward procedural reform, might be found in and around that fact.
Small Town Reporter (Maryland)
Tom, Mr. Scott was clearly unarmed. And there's nothing in the police manual that says put incriminating evidence next to the victim. ! And training doesn't make these guys robots that pull the trigger until they run out of ammo, they have to think for themselves and take measures to reduce harm--even while chasing a suspect. Mr. Slager was too lazy and too malicious to chase down Scott and arrest him, I believe he just wanted to shoot someone.

This is a death penalty case if I ever saw one. Premeditated and with malice and a clear attempt to obstruct justice by planting evidence. The man was entrusted to protect, this is why he needs the gurney. And I generality oppose the death penalty.
miamipubcast (Imbabura, Ecuador)
This is the first time in memory (not that I keep a list) that the police union has not automatically leaped to the defense of a police officer, no matter how damning the circumstances. Of course it's the union's role to be supportive of a member's rights, but not blind to the facts or indifferent to victims. I have new-found respect for the union--at least this one.
Ron (Arizona, USA)
A cop pull an a black man over for a broken taillight. There is a brief struggle and he runs ... slowly ... from you and you shoot him .... 8 TIMES IN THE BACK.... over a broken taillight. Sorry Mom, your son deserves life in prison. And if you think life is unfair, so does the mother of the dead black man.
greg (Va)
He was shot in the back twice, clipped in the ear once, and missed five times.
sarajane (Atlanta)
Year's ago, I worked with a woman whose father was the police chief in a mid-sized southern town. Rather than believing she should obey the law, she felt she was above the law because she had "inside" help. Apparently this is a common attitude among our police force. It makes me sick to watch this video but as others have pointed out- the effort was to only cover up what really happened.
Dion (Washington, UT)
The mother says that her son is scared to death? Waz that? The victim is not scared he's DEAD! And as the story unfolds the other officer who showed up afterwards will be prosecuted as well for not reporting Slager had dropped off the taser gun at the foot of the victim from afar. Everyone else in the Police dept are distancing themselves as these two are not the onlyy Police offiers to loose their heads. Possible the Chief knows that he may be as well as exampled by the Ferguson Chief. Pay and pensions will be on the line which is quite a scare for the Police there. This whole video is looks like Slager is going after some stray dog then executed him.
Dogs even deserve better.
greg (Va)
How do you know what the second officer reported? Produce his report or stop making assumptions.
Lau (Penang, Malaysia)
There are TWO rather heinous acts involved in this incident. First, shooting an unarmed, fleeing man. Second, plant the evidence to place the blame on the dying man whom he shot. The second is far more despicable due to the calculative, cold-blooded, cowardly nature of the act. I wonder how many times the victims of American police shooting have been blamed in criminal act such as this.
A (Philipse Manor, N.Y.)
Thirty-eight paragraphs about the killer cop, 5 about the victim. This is what is wrong with the media. The fascination to discover and "investigate" what is clearly a murder at face value, by delving into the psyche of the cop. Really? As Hillary Clinton would say "Who cares, what does it matter?"
The barber who shot this is, in my opinion, the man who should be lauded and featured. He almost gave his video to the cops, thought better of it, and gave it to the victim's attorney. Phew. As a reader I'd like to know more about him and the victim.
Doris (Indianapolis, IN)
Yahoo did an interview with the guy who shot the video, and he stated that he was also afraid of his life after this video was shown in public, that he is contemplating moving out of South Carolina.
What galls me is the complete lack of compassion and remorse this officer shows and has shown over the fact he ended a man's life. It's such a waste all the way around and the root cause starts and ends with Michael Slager's inability to see a fellow human in the form of Walter Scott.

This is not an isolated incident, though, is it? If this was a lone incident, perhaps I could say that Slager is a sociopath (and perhaps he is).....but then are we just going to conclude same about the nation's police force? That they are sociopathic racists? Because these events are happening and have been happening without much *effective* introspection as to the cause.

For me, the root cause of this is endemic to our American society and that is the dearth of compassion towards other people. We love to judge. We love to feel superior. We do not enjoy walking in other people's shoes and we never want to understand that beyond a person's actions lies a flawed human who is perhaps as well intentioned as we would want them to be..... and so therefore, we don't change because we never get to that point in the conversation.

How much training on psychology do they receive? Is temperament and leadership a skill that is actively sought in hiring?

...and how much are we training our youth as to the appropriate skills to deal with police? If, sadly, the police force shows signs of being run by thugs, isn't it smart to come up with better strategies when encountering them?

What a waste.
Lynda (Gulfport, FL)
Every time a law enforcement officer shoots and kills (in the name of taxpayers with a taxpayer provided weapon) or a "suspect" dies during an arrest by an officer, a public hearing needs to be held. Not media conferences, not "leaks" of videos or information. And not a "trial" until the evidence is evaluated. Not secret Grand Jury proceedings without a representative for the victim of the shooting. Actual public hearings with those who can speak for the officer and for the person killed. Actual hearings to present what facts are known and what facts are yet to be known or will never be known.

The police officers who shoot to kill or who abuse prisoners until they die in custody do so as employees paid by taxpayers. The evidence of what they do in our names with weapons (guns, tasers, vehicles, training) we pay for needs to be public when someone dies as a result.

Too many unnecessary deaths. All lives matter.
apride1 (boston)
I would like to know more about the psychological testing done when one applies to become a police officer.
jwp-nyc (new york)
Gee where are the Liberals weighing in with authority saying that ''most police are products of single family parents or broken homes seeking to impose order on society?'' Where are the close up color shots of the entry holes in Walter L Scott's back, leaked illegally from a police department anxious to bury and pre-judge Officer Slagel? Because such garbage and its equivalent are exactly what the neutral public was treated to in the Ferguson case by FOX and the racist right-wing.

Meanwhile the fictions that the destruction in Ferguson was a black-instigated, not a white led event continues. The media has never questioned why the Ferguson Police left the commercial strip of Ferguson, which is all of two blocks long, vulnerable, without a meaningful cordon, unprotected, while they went chasing around after protesters in tanks. What a surprise that some local opportunistic looters took advantage.

Such a policy of hostile aggression, augmented by the ''unauthorized release'' of the Brown candy store tape, while refusing to release autopsy findings until forced into doing so by the mortification created after the Brown family felt obliged to retrain their own medical examiner, truly gets to the heart of the Ferguson debacle. The right wing and police were allowed to keep a likely criminal, Police Officer Wilson in their own protective custody until his incredible testimony could be coached into him for softball questions from a morally corrupt DA.
Aretha (Nashville)
AMEN! Thank you jwp for saying what we're feeling. How did America let a few white racists take over the dialogue and why don't they show Mr. Scott's mother grieving at his grave instead of his assassin's mother?
MC (Iowa)
First of all, I want to make very clear that I do not condone the shooting of any person when there is not a life theatening situation at hand. A man running away fom an office is not a situation that deserves a death sentence. With that being said, I must ask why did Mr. Scott just not stop? Why did he run? It seems like in may of these cases if the victim of an officer shooting would have just listened and stopped, and did not run or fight back they would still be alive today. We must teach these people that if they are pulled over or questioned to not run away and not resist an oficer... Once again, I am not stating that the officer had any right to shoot Mr. Scott, but why give them any excuse to fire at all?
DR (New England)
I'm guessing that like me, you're a white person and don't have to live in fear of law enforcement the way so many people of color do.

Isn't it interesting that none of the people who ask these questions held Cliven Bundy responsible for the way he treated law enforcement?
Midtown2015 (NY)
You have no idea why he ran.
And the idea that police officers have absolute authority to do anything is nonsense.

Never resist a cop, never answer back, do everything slow, dont appear threatening, answer extremely politely,... you would think these guys are not there to protect us, but to lord over us in an absolute manner.

You could have answered back the king a few hundred years ago with less fears of a brutal repercussion. Perhaps the king might have jailed you, and executed you a few months later. Here, the death comes swiftly and immediately.
Sara G. (New York, NY)
You are blaming the victim. Making a "disclaimer" that you're not condoning the shooting is specious because you're asking - illogically - why the victim was running. The only real question is this: why did a police officer shoot an unarmed man who was running away from him?
Shermane (Shermane)
As much as I can understand a mother's grief, I am deeply disturbed how this article appears to plea to the public not to demonize Michael Slager for the intentional and willful murder of an unarmed man. Instead, we should highlight the fact that Mr. Scott was treated as an animal the day he loss his life. A mother has loss her son, and children have loss their father.
ndbza (az)
What would have been the outcome if the fugitive was wanted for murder or rape?
serious searcher (westchester,ny)
The same in a law abiding country.
Incredulosity (New York, NY)
Strangely, they never seem to shoot those suspects to kill, because they want to put them on trial. (To see "justice" done?) They only seem to shoot those suspected of minor offenses.
Edward (Midwest)
I'm a 65-year-old white man who knows his Constitutional rights and has never had any contact with the police.

What local governments and police departments have to realize are the effects the actions have on all of us, namely a chilling effect on our exercise of our Constitutional rights. If I refuse to let an officer give me a breathalyzer test or search my car, am I going to find myself dragged from my car, pinned to the ground with an officer kneeling on my head and my wrists shackled?

I have to believe police departments know who these discriminatory, violent and marginal cops are. They need an internal way to clean up their own departments. What, until now, has been general support for law enforcement, is changing to fear and, perhaps, loathing, and not just among minority citizens. That helps no one.
Shermane (Shermane)
Well said.
jwp-nyc (new york)
Actually - if things are as bad as you and others are apparently beginning to realize they might be, then it helps us all to come to grips with it and have it addressed.
jim (arizona)

Yes, you will likely find yourself in that position. I was, for something much less than what you describe, a little over a year ago, when a volunteer citizen patrol called me in to the Police dispatcher and described me as "combative". Four police cars soon arrived and I was found face-down in the gravel, hands cuffed behind my back, an officer's knee in my back and his hand on his holster.
Susan (New York, NY)
What is all of this? And article to try to garner sympathy for this man? He's a head case and a murderer. Lock him up and throw away the key.
omedb261 (west hartford, ct)
TFreePress has hit the nail on the head. There are deeper issues here than just the shooting.
Jake (New York)
The most important question, and one for which we will probably never have an answer, is why did this officer shoot this unarmed man who was posing no threat. The video of the initial stop appears to show the officer being respectful in his dealings with Mr. Scott; certainly not the demeanor of someone out to kill another human being black or otherwise. But seconds later, when Scott runs, the officer fires 8 shots and kills him. What was Slager thinking? I would really like to know what was going on his head, because knowing that is probably our best shot at preventing more unwarranted police shootings. Maybe it is just conscious or subconscious racism as most posters believe. Maybe not.
Todd Fox (Earth)
You've asked a very good question. Why does an officer shoot when a suspect runs? Why did this particular officer shoot when someone he pulled over for a routine traffic stop ran? Did he think at all? Or did he just react?
boo (ME)
"The video has been viewed more than one million times on YouTube, but not by the officer’s mother....
'I can’t see him being a mean person, a bad person,' Ms. Sharpe said. 'He’s a very good person,” she said. “He’s very generous. He likes to help.'"

A microcosm of the whole. We don't like to believe people like us, people we love, people who are good in many ways, are capable of horrific acts. And so we ignore the evidence. It's time for every person in this country to watch the video.
Shermane (Shermane)
Margaret (NY)
"Had the city followed up, he said, maybe Mr. Scott would still be alive, because Mr. Slager would have been removed from the force."

This is the most salient point.

Police officer is a profession that, in the US, requires people to carry guns. This officer had a history that obviously demonstrated he should not have been one of those people.

As we talk about a pilot with a history of depression and people who might be dangerous on the job, let us pay careful attention to those who carry guns. A gun's intent is to kill. And that's what happened.

His mother says her son is scared. Imagine how the Mr Scott's family feels.
DR (New England)
This might be a good time to bring up how heavily medicated many of our military personnel are.

CBS News has done some good stories on this. Ex military personnel get extra points on law enforcement exams, many of them go into law enforcement or security work.

They're deeply traumatized and often heavily medicated. I've seen this in my own family and it's very frightening.

My son in law wasn't allowed to be near weapons during his last few months in the Army (he was discharged for PTSD) but nothing stopped him from getting a job as a security guard when he got out and nothing stops him from stockpiling weapons in his home.

The military write prescriptions for him and law enforcement says they can't do anything unless he hurts or kills someone.
Christopher Haslett (Diani, Kenya)
To me he is a real life Sledge Hammer. (Remember that show where David Rasche used to shoot jaywalkers?) I still watch the episodes, but these real-life Sledge incidents are making it harder to laugh. There seem to be a lot of Sledge Hammers out there on the streets.
Janis (Ridgewood, NJ)
Mr. Slager was a hateful man. It should be mandatory that all policeman in the U.S. be wearing a camera at all times. The truth will prevail and we can eliminate mistakes made within the system.
Air Marshal of Bloviana (Over the Fruited Plain)
Perhaps cities cold put cameras on criminals instead of ankle bracelets or as in this common case, nothing at all.
Baptiste C. (Paris, France)
Just goes to show the well known fact that most murderers are, by and large, normal people if one chooses to omit the very fact that they committed murder.

Yet here we still have a man, in a position of authority, who killed another man, in cold blood, then tried to cover it up in a manner that's shocking not in its nature, but because it seems so very routine to the man.
Fred (Halifax, N.S.)
Aww, he played cops and robbers as a kid, came from a broken home, is now scared. Poor guy. Really make you feel bad for him, except for the fact that he basically killed a man in cold blood and then placed his Taser next to the body to back up his story. Who writes this stuff? If not for the video, he gets off scot free, while Walter Scott is dead. I agree with the poster who opined that the "obvious" guilt is the reason he has been dumped by the union, not the act itself. Without a video, they circle the wagons and defend their guy.
The facts of the matter are disturbing and commonplace these days. Unarmed people are being killed by police after they run from or resist arrest for minor traffic violations or jaywalking. It's not like these people are mass murderers; they are petty criminals at best. It's all about power, plain and simple.
I realize the world is not Andy of Mayberry, but this stuff has to cease. Take off the camo gear and flak jackets, sell the tanks and machine guns and become Policemen. The fact that you have a badge and a gun does not make you omnipotent and everyone has to obey your every command. Get a grip on reality; a lot of you guys are no better than a Mall cop.
Nicthommi (CA)
I want to know why they didn't do a "he was no angel" story since this guy clearly came from a broken home with no "family values." He's a thug and murderer who was given a badge and gun.
Sara G. (New York, NY)
Karen Sharpe, Mr. Slager's mother, says that she thinks "he’s scared to death".

Lucky him; better that than shot to death like Mr. Scott.
dilkie (ottawa)
I want to know why the second officer, who witnessed the evidence plant, hasn't been charged with a crime, "accessory to murder" even?
sabriyahm (atlanta ga)
The failure to act is not the same as action. The second officer saw the evidence planting. But he can't be an accessory or party to the crime. Merely witnessing something and saying nothing isn't enough. Consider. By your logic the video taker would also be an accessory if he was too scared to release the video.
Wizarat (Moorestown, NJ)
We are free to point fingers as to the reasons why these killing happens, my question to our readers is very simply this, Are we willing to change this kill kill kill and bomb bomb bomb culture?
It is not going to be easy, and we can start by using our wallets for not supporting violence in any shape or form coming out of Hollywood and other cable outlets.
Good luck. Ad there is no good reason for humans to enjoy violence.
Michael Johnson (Alabama)
“He went to all the baby appointments, all the ultrasound appointments,” his mother, Ms. Sharpe, said. “It saddens me to know that he won’t be in the delivery room.”… And so here we are (again), the obligatory “humanizing” of the offending officer phase.
doktorij (Eastern Tn)
People change, understanding the reasons may be helpful, particularly if the reason for this sad event was part of the police culture. The other officer in the video seems lackadaisical too. The fact that both made false reports is troubling and, in my experience, points to a work culture problem.

Too many unknown details at this stage to make assessments beyond there was no reason to shoot an unarmed man in the back eight times.
Roberta (Newport News)
Oh please, a "child of divorce??" When will people (and their parents) take responsibility for their actions. This is just the sort of lifetime of excuses that parents use to rationalize their children's (and then adult children's misdeeds). It is an insult to everyone's intelligence.
Erich (VT)
For a moment, let's take his stepmother at her word; that Mr. Slager is not a monster with malice in his heart, who was waiting for the chance to gun someone down, but rather snapped in the heat of the moment, or was corrupted by police culture.

That says a lot about about human fallibility and the wisdom of having so many armed people roaming the streets to protect us, not to mention the insanity of American gun laws.
Nicthommi (CA)
Let's not b/c the victims of these officers are always demonized and treated like animals. Why does he get such a heartwarming portrayal in the media? Disgusting. He's a killer, who broke the law and then broke the law again to cover it up. And I'm actually surprised he hasn't gotten away with it b/c they usually do. He's not the first dirty cop caught on video.
DebinOregon (Oregon)
So ironic that Officer Slager's mother says he's "scared to death". Isn't that literally what happened to the actual victim here, Mr. Scott? Scared, then to death. And she hasn't even watched the video! I just know that the next article by these authors will have a comparably glowing rendition of Mr. Scott's childhood, using the same euphemisms, while mentioning only Officer Slager's wrongs.
Charles (Toronto)
I am confused.

I support the police and know they have a difficult job.

However, this case troubles me greatly.

Why did Officer Slager handcuff the injured and dying Mr. Scott instead of trying to help him?

Was he perhaps working on the basis of "dead men tell no tales"?
Stourley Kracklite (White Plains, NY)
"Scared to death" vs. "shot to death." Big difference.
Wally Weet (Seneca)
Something is missing in this piece. What did/does this policeman carry in his mind about African Americans? That may be impossible to discover, but suppose questions were asked about people of color when talking to those he knew as a child, his relatives, his colleagues. Was there ever a clue that he felt African American "are not us?"
crashtx1 (Richardson, Tx)
Did you watch the dash cam video of the stop, prior to the Scott running? Slager was very calm and respectful to Mr. Scott, even with Mr. Scott's very iffy explanation of the car he was driving. If we are to learn from a situation we need to understand the entire situation, right? How does a person with a clean background end up making such bad choices in his interactions with a career criminal. It's worth the study.
Nicthommi (CA)
I think 8 bullets in the back of a man who was FLEEING and UNARMED answers that question. I'm pretty sure people don't take down animals they are hunting with that many bullets. So um yeah.
Andre (New York)
Really doesn't matter about race. A man died for no reason...
comeonman (Las Cruces)
I know of one person whom I was called on a background check, ex-employee, who I clearly identified as having anger management issues. He was hired. the last I heard he had not shot anyone, not that he didn't really really want to though.

Sue for 1 BILLION dollars - and maybe this state will look into some of it's municipalities. If the family sues for 1 billion dollars, and I were a jury member, I would grant them that money. Because it would take money away from BIG Contractors who run the State. And that is the only way to get something done, make it hurt at the top level, take it from the pockets of the donors of the pol.s.

We need to erase that thin blue line here and have the DOJ threaten every officer with automatic incarceration who does not come clean with any evidence department wide of officers who may have a problem. Ever here of the DA pressuring people to plead guilty to a lesser charge? Let's pressure the Cops the way they pressure perps. Turn one against another, throw the book at the ones who dare to have their day in court. Turnabout should be demanded.

Lapel cameras are putting the horse after the cart. Political damage control.
DR (New England)
I'd sue but agree to a lesser settlement if cameras are made mandatory and put in place now and forever.
Lauren B (Asheville NC)
There was a time, not so very long ago, when it was a badge of honor to retire from service as a police officer having never fired your weapon. Now there is a constant drumbeat of officer after officer using his weapon first, engaging in a high speed chase along busy roads, beating and kicking suspects. It is as if the decision making process has been hijacked and there is no impulse control. Only the maddening desire to stop and control the suspect, at any cost.
Joe (Indiana)
Great points. The entire philosophy of policing has changed in this country and it will be difficult to reverse this. Many police departments recruit people who are attracted to excitement and adrenaline rushes, then train them to be aggressive and escalate instead of diffuse situations. Reform needs to be deep and wide ranging. It won't be easy. Police departments and Police unions will fight hard to prevent it.
Darker (LI, NY)
What is the point of throwing this tear-jerking "murder-cop-mom" drama in our faces? Disgusting and pathetic, indeed.
littleninja2356 (UK)
A rogue cop played cop and robbers with an innocent man, not only using one bullet but eight and then set the scene to an innocent man to look guilty.
Fortunately for Mr. Scott's family the video footage proves that another African American was murdered by a white cop.
His mother said he is a child of divorce; what relevance that has to the cold bloodied murder leaves me perplexed.

It's a great pity that the cop who killed Eric Garner didn't get his just desserts. American policing like the policing here in the UK is endemically racist. The racism and Jim Crow mentality affecting America is bewildering since Barack Obama became the first African American President.
Nicthommi (CA)
It really has increased exponentially...or I should say the way that people are so open about it, and the way that it gets thrown in the faces of black Americans that we are not equal under the law.
This level of open violence is what my parents saw in the Jim Crow South. I don't know that they expected to see it reach these levels again, but here we are.
LindaP` (Boston, MA)
"I think he’s scared to death.” Well, that should be the least of it for gunning down a man in cold blood. It's called consequences.

Slager might be scared to death, but Walter Scott is dead
Danno (Maine)
The deep love of racism, the love of violence and the love of ignorance we, the people, have embraced will continue to have this type of news of police acting out the beloved customs of the U.S. populace. The infamous silent majority had better start talking and acting like they actually do care about other human beings because the neglect of what is the correct action, the neglect of practicing democracy and the neglect of stopping the bully are showing by the rewards we are reaping. It is really sad to be part of a nation which adores money to the point of murder.
Blue State (here)
Have we not been begging police departments to prove that not all cops are like this? Is the NYT surprised? disappointed? that this cop is 'scorned'? Did you want the blue wall back?
Wizarat (Moorestown, NJ)
It is the tip of the iceberg. The whole system is broken, We need to bring back the community policing to our tows and cities. We need to demilitarize police.
If swat teams are needed that is/should be available with the National Guards.
Just for comparison sake, Last two years in England police fired their weapons ONLY THREE times and killed no one, our numbers are in hundreds for the same period. It is not that there is less crime in England, but because the police is trained to use "Brains" instead of "Brawn"
If all you have is an hammer every problem looks like a nail.
For in depth analysis link to Economist is appended
Jimmy (Greenville, North Carolina)
If he gets the same type sentence that most get today his sentence will not be long. What is good for the goose is good for the gander. I am amazed at some of the light sentences handed down for murder.
AKJ (Pennsylvania)
I do not believe that Mr. Slager set out to deliberately shoot a black man. He seems to have gotten caught up in his desire to assert authority. When he saw Walter Scott fleeing, it was an assault on his authority and so he responded. I find that this is true of the police today - the lose sight of the forest for the trees. Slager would have easily been able to track down Scott and issue him a ticket, but he was so intent on subduing him and asserting his authority at that moment that I believe that his ability to reason out the situation was compromised.

This is a flaw in training from the police academy and one reinforced by the Blue Line ethos.
robert bloom (berkeley ca)
It's no wonder that cops all over the USA are turning their backs on this cop (a dangerous thing to do, it seems). This fact that this cop got snagged on camera has blown cops' cover from New York to Duckberg.
It's one thing for the public to hear accounts of police brutality, including murder, but here it is for the world to see. Murder of yet another unarmed Black man by a cop. Undeniable. (Thank you, videographer Santana, a genuine courageous hero.)
Worse yet for police, now the world sees with its own eyes that cops actually will plant evidence when they feel the need to do so. No denying it. Now everyone sees that this is what cops will do when it serves their interest.
And further yet, this cop and his bosses got caught lying about what took place. The world knows that he lied and that the bosses (as well as the other cop on the scene) backed him up because they didn't know at the time he told his false story that the truth was all memorialized. The tape don't lie.
Of course this guy is being shunned by cops. He blew it for the rest of them. Everyone now knows that cops can and will murder people, plant evidence, and tell lies. It can no longer be denied, and all cops (who are usually given a pass because they are the domestic army for the one percent) deeply resent this guy because has exposed what cops do.
Nicthommi (CA)
You sir hit the nail on the head, and I hope that seeing the WHOLE thing play out on video makes people realize what happens when it isn't caught on film. These people will lie under oath, will plant evidence, will murder citizens, and have been getting away with it for ages.
I hope the next jury that sits for a case of extrajudicial execution by a police officer remembers this.
Joe Goldstein (Miami, Florida)
Battle fatigue is a condition recognized by front-line soldiers, but where is there an ounce of understanding for these guys who day-in and day-out must chase down that criminal element which refuses to obey the law. Perhaps we could agree to rotate these policemen in high crime areas to the burbs for a little rest and relaxation. This nation must adopt an understanding that police are not supermen and lawbreakers must beware of extenuating consequences.
Steve Bolger (New York City)
Every town that pays for tax cuts with punitive policing of trivial infractions seems to have the same problems as Ferguson, MO.
Rachel (NJ/NY)
What? The cop doesn't seem stressed in the video. He doesn't seem terrified. He seems irritated that somebody ran away from him after repeated use of a taser, so he kills the man and plants the taser as an excuse for the murder.

Stress indeed.

It is all about asserting control. It's the same reason Henry Louis Gates was arrested even after he had shown his Harvard ID and established that he was a professor and was in his own home. He had irritated the cop, and cops feel free to punish anyone as severely as they want for being irritated.

Cops want the rest of us to be trained to lie down in front of them like silent, docile servants -- or the consequences are arrest or death. That is their attitude. The idea that they are the "trained" people in the circumstances and should know how to treat even panicked, cranky, or frightened people as human beings doesn't seem to occur to them.
Harrison (New York, NY)
Two offenders in a high crime area: one an officer and the other someone who lives there. How do you decide which offender suffers battle fatigue, and which one is a criminal element?
sleeve (West Chester PA)
“I think he’s scared to death,”
And this caption speak a million words of unrecognized hypocrisy on steroids.
I am sure she is glad it is just an expression for the white bigot who murdered someone else's son in cold blood and then committed another felony by tampering with evidence. We have met the enemy of the people and it is Mike Slater, Patrick Lynch, and Darren Wilson and co, extrajudicial assassins in blue, all on our dime.
Ike (Ohio)
Wilson, at least, was exonerated by the Justice Department. Read their report.
Paul (Nevada)
This story is totally depressing. Why pump 8 shots into his back? Where was he gonna run to? Impound the car and pick him up at his house. The end. But know, he had to gun him down. Too much tv, and too much ingrained bigotry. I wish him well, but when the blue line desert its' own, it's over.
David Fairbanks (Reno Nevada)
Seven shots fired a pause and then one last shot fired, it is this sequence that may eventually undo Mr. Slager. Three maybe four shots can be seen as adrenaline or intense emotion, these men did have a physical confrontation and the reaction is credible. But after several shots it takes willful intent to keep firing. Any police officer who is not psychotic will tell you that pulling the trigger is the most dramatic moment in a career. Mr. Scott ran away and tragically for Mr. Slager this might have been seen as an unforgivable act of defiance.
All of us should step back and not be so quick to make this a race thing, and not use this tragedy for partisan causes. Its too easy to impose private rage on what in the end it is more than likely a sad tragic moment between to desperate men in an empty lot.
klm (atlanta)
No video, no crime.
I'm glad there's video.
partlycloudy (methingham county)
I worked with cops for over 28 yrs. There were only a few bad cops that I knew, and the other cops did not support them. But now, all of a sudden, too many cop shootings all over.. Like in Oklahoma the other day, by the aulix cop. The mayor of N. Charleston did the right thing, so I'm upset that there were demonstrations because that cop is going to be tried and convicted for this murder. But one cannot make the victim an angel when he had a record and he owed 18000 in child support. He was not a thug, the cop was a thug. The murder was totally wrong, as the cop was too lazy to chase and catch the guy. And he had his car and his ID, so no problem with identification plus he was on video. The cop needs to get life sentence or even death penalty. No remorse seen and he laughed after he killed the guy for NO REASON.
Jack (NY)
They are greatest bunch to work with IF you are in the group.. from outside, majority are just on lookout to frame someone ALWAYS.. majority are corrupt. Ever stop by a police station not see personal cars with blackedout windows ? They would give ticket in a jiffy for anyone else.. their own ? no tickets, fully tinted, anyting you want..
AE (France)
The Walter Scott tragedy is a casebook study in how an institution can alter an individual member's ability to exert his or her moral judgement in the name of fulfilling the mission of the police force regardless of the sloppiness of the outcome. I doubt whether Slager is really a bona fide racist or innately zealous cop. Like in another similar situations around the world, he probably underwent a conditioning process that reflects the local law enforcement agency's overly pragmatic duty to 'get the bad guys' at any cost, including fudging the evidence. One shudders at the scale of such incidents which did not happen to be recorded by a chance witness in possession of the now omnipresent recording devices incorporated in most modern cellphones. Was this sort of police brutality 'business as usual' before the 21st century?
Anne Truth (46360)
The man should not have ran, the police officer should not have opened fire. Two bad decisions ended in 2 lost lives.
hen3ry (New York)
Maybe Mr. Scott was in fear for his life. Maybe he's had previous bad encounters with police officers. Maybe the officer threatened him. There could be any number of reasons why Mr. Scott ran. What is clear from the video is that the officer stood there and shot him in the back while Mr. Scott was running away.
Sorry, this is not North Korea. In the United States, the police cannot simply open fire on an unarmed man who is fleeing from them, unless he is reasonable believed to be about to cause lethal or serious bodily harm to the police officer or someone else.
Exactly and everyone seems to want to put 98% in the "reaction" bucket and about 2% in the "cause" bucket. This, in itself, seems to be a non-important factor. Behavior is everything and I think its time to have that conversation. While everyone wants to focus on the result (not one I necessarily agree with), almost always, in fact every time, this is a result of non compliance, basic requests to sit still or stay seated or resisting arrest. For some reason, there is a certain narrative floating around, yet in every single one of these scenarios, someone has or is in the process of committing a crime. No matter how small. Well, why do Asians, Indians and Caucasians comply with the most basic requests, yet Black men cannot? It's a fair question and I don't want to hear about oppression anymore. It's 2015. If a cop asks you to stay in your car, here's a thought, sit your butt down and wait until the encounter is over.
Bruce Ehrmann (New York, NY)
The banality of evil.
peterheron (Australia / Boston)
Much of this article reminds me of quotes given by friends and neighbors of serial killers like Jeffrey Dahmer: "Nice kid." "Quiet." "Kept to himself." "Always helpful." But such comments essentially add up to nonsense. Who truly knows another human being? Mr Slager should be judged by his actions, and however helpful or sociable or lonely he was, whether he was from a broken family or a happy one, rich or poor, whether he is gay or his wife is due to give birth in the next month, does not matter one iota. From all appearances he used his police-issued gun to shoot a fleeing man in the back eight times, then with malice aforethought appears to have tried to cover up his crime by dropping the taser next to the man he had murdered, and then he handcuffed him. That is cold and foul and inexcusable, and from where I sit, it sure looks like murder in the first degree to me.
Real Amerikan (Terre Haute, IN)
I wish comments like yours were rated higher. This trope, this habit has to stop. You have to wonder why Slager gets such humanizing treatment when it is Mr. Scott who is the victim here. I cannot help but see America's favorite psycho-killer Dexter Morgan or that Colorado shooter who shant be named. Where are all of the comments referring to Slager as a 'thug' or sub-human as one of our favorite right wing commentators has said about a cop killer. I do not wish to imply race has anything to do with it, but, Slager is the real criminal. His violence took a life. Period. End of discussion. The fact that he tried to make Scott look like he deserved it, and believed he would be believed, and before the video, WAS BELIEVED, is all we need to know to pass judgement on American values here.
PogoWasRight (Melbourne Florida)
My sympathy goes out the family of the victim, and similar families all around the country, and of all races. But, this is another indication of "rule by opinion and innuendo". I know, I know - there is the video. But that in only a small portion of the whole story, a story about which neither the public nor the investigators have uncovered all that should be uncovered. So far. Yet the public has already determined the crime, the victim, the shooter and arrived at a verdict. As we, including myself, always do. And, there will soon be an identical story appearing, again and again, but we seem unable to find the causes.
Ann Carlson (Minneapolis, MN)
Even if the video is only a 'small portion' of the full story, it shows:
1. The police officer shooting an unarmed man 8 TIMES in the back;
2. The police officer retrieving & planting evidence;
3. The police officer with EMT training, failing to give aid.

As we look back at "the full story", we must examine a police organization that knew Officer Slager previously shot a his taser at an unarmed, innocent homeowner as the witness shouted, "It's not him". There is a systemic problem within that organization, no doubt.
Van (Richardson, TX)
Ann Carlson: I agree with your comment, but I recall that Mr. Scott was shot three times (ear, buttocks, back). So while Mr. Slager shot at Mr. Scott's back eight times, and killed him, he didn't shoot Mr. Scott eight times in the back. I'm trying to keep the facts straight.
Larry Schuetter (Northern California)
Why is the Social Media being allowed to turn on local city policing, while Federal Laws in Congress are being violated every day in Congress.
Social Media is making a Mockery of Law Enforcement to Push their hidden agendas against the aging populations and welfare of the USA. Doing so the more the Government can hide the hidden agenda of the total destruction of the USA from with in. Until the Human Being is worth Substance and not Felony Capital Punishment this will not change. The SSN Credit Debit Card is that vehicle that can avert the Sedition by the Government bodies themselves , orchestrating the downfall of the USA for political gain.
Bob F. (Lawrence, Kansas)
Slager is by no means the first murderer to be described as quiet and polite.
Henry Edward Hardy (Somerville, Mass.)
Why does the alleged murderer get 38 paragraphs while the victim gets a mere 4 bullet points in a sidebar?
crashtx1 (Richardson, Tx)
There have been several stories on Mr. Scott, which are then criticized for pointing out that the "family man" was a career criminal. Can't have it both ways.
Hakuna Matata (San Jose)
The only reason to do this is if there is a culture of doing it and getting away with it (when no one is filming). The culture of abuse has to change.
A Joe (Maryland)
Thank god for cameras. Black people have been talking about this for 200 plus years and no one would take it seriously. I can bet you that some thing like this happened in the forgers on case. We have to remember the history of policing in America. It evolved form the slave patrols.
Paul Katz (Vienna, Austria)
Seems "easy" to me. A shy, retiring person who obviously is not street smart will encounter problems in police service where he has to project authority. A person without natural authority will try to derive authority from his gun. And such a person wil build up frustration during his service (and before). That is a dangerous mixture. And since cops defy to be monitored and obviously "protect" each other, such dangerous officers will go on doing duty unnoticed until they explode.
Times Rita (New Jersey)
As a 60+ white female, I sure don't fit the demographic for rogue cops who assault or murder in the name of justice. But even I am starting to fear that if I'm stopped by a cop while driving, I'd better keep both hands on the wheel and a smile on my face.
mhf (Houston TX)
Exactly. I'm a canine behaviorist and the rules of behavior are simple- if a behavior is reinforced it increases. If cops can get away with beating, harassing and killing one group of people then the behavior is reinforced and we are all in danger.
Ron (Texas)
I believe that many policemen/woman are weak people in positions of power. Unfortunately, it can be a deadly combination.
Billy from Brooklyn (Hudson Valley NY)
Agree. This like most situations is not always a clear right vs wrong. Law enforcement positions now attract different people, who choose the career for many different reasons.

Many of the applicants do not possess a good deal of physical courage, and will always consider themselves to be in danger and will shoot as a first option. By physical size or by temperment, they will never expose themselves to any perceived danger. And by internal culture, they see law enforcement as us against them, and do not feel that they should be required to defend their actions to civil authorities.

Current radio ads promote the position as well paying, many benefits, educational opportunities, and interesting work. It should also clearly advise that physical danger is involved, and officers will be expected to only use deadly force as a final unavoidable option.
Barbara (Rhode Island)
Right. They have no ability to deal with the anger or frustration they feel when someone doesn't do what they tell them to do. And I don't think they get any training on anger management in the police academy.
Bob (Brooklyn)
How can this simplistic, sophomoric and sweeping statement be considered profound and worthy of a ''NYTPick''?

Ron, if I were you the next time you're facing peril please don't call the ''weak people''.You don't need them
Laura Carr (Triad, NC)
The number of police killed by criminals in the line of duty has fallen to record lows, about 40 each year, along with the overall reduction of crime in general. However the number of "justified homicides" by police is multiples higher. The FBI reports about 400/year but because this data is not required to be reported, the real number has been estimated to be over 1000. We owe it to our police to allow them to defend themselves, but new recruits know that their chosen career is not for the faint of heart. Their mission is to serve and protect.

Non-violent minor crimes have become de facto capital offenses without the presumption of innocence. Assault rifles, tasers, and teargas have replaced the billy club. Our police are equipped with tanks suited for the battlefield, while soldiers abroad suffer from shortages. The war on terror is being waged here at home. The threat comes from the people paid to protect us.

The complicit silence and support of misbehavior prevalent in our police culture does no favor to the many good cops willing to risk their lives to serve and protect the public. Where is action against the second officer, who witnessed Officer Slager planting the taser next to Mr. Scott? If I witnessed a similar act as a medical professional and didn't report it, I would be immediately terminated and potentially lose my license to practice.

The public is not the enemy. It's time for police to go back to walking a local beat.......without their guns.
Joanne Rumford (Port Huron, MI)
Walter Scott ran because he owed child support payments and did not want to go to jail. Was it worth being chased? No, but maybe if the court system had a better way of working with parents, male and female, who owe child support there would be more counseling than jail time. Or have a spouse or living arrangement with a current partner where there is support for those in the arrears of child support. I don't think he would have left that car even if he did not have the registration in his name or had a taillight out because of this. And why leave someone behind sitting in the passenger side?

On the other hand why did Michael Slager pursue him? Was it the broken taillight, past due child support or was it because he was African American? And why shoot him in the back? Even if it was one shot once is enough. I think with cameras it won't make a difference. The same with recording devices. How do we know that Officer Slager didn't see a witness taking the video from behind the fence? Did he not know he was being videotaped with a cell phone? It makes a big difference only after the death and not before. Had Walter Scott lived and the video was still out there Slager would not have been accused of murder. What ever the motive being a police officer Slager should have known that after eight shots it was premeditated whether there was a video or not. And that's most likely why he was charged right away.
Air Marshal of Bloviana (Over the Fruited Plain)
Yes, perhaps if Mercedes dealerships could keep in touch with family law enforcement this sort of irresponsible remake for a-better-relationship-next-time would end.
crashtx1 (Richardson, Tx)
He chased a criminal with an outstanding arrest warrant. That's what police do. The shooting was inexcusable, but do try to understand the context.
DR (New England)
Non payment of child support doesn't go on a person's credit rating. That would be a good place to start.
Tullymd (Bloomington, Vt)
He's a reflection of the racist culture of the US. The African American community and their supporters need to rise up as they did in the 1960s. Their oppression is so obvious and so painful to watch. The authorities are countering with rhetoric, with lip service, a totally ineffective response.
scientella (Palo Alto)

This man is evil. A cold blooded murderer.
jzu (Cincinnati, OH)
When do we begin to understand that we are a product of our upbringing? Policemen are a product of the police culture, and perhaps police culture is a reflection of the nation. Let's stop demonizing one man. We must demonize the police force, it's culture to be precise. That only will bring lasting change.
Peter (Austin, TX)
This case illustrates the tragedy of America. A country with a fascination for guns. A fascination with shooting and bombing everyone and everything that does not conform to a certain sector of the population with narrrowly educated, supposedly Christian norms, and with little tolerance for people of different nationality or religion. Only this week we have Sen Tom Cotton advocating bombing Iran. Like we bombed Iraq, Afganistan, Vietnam and N Korea. Dreadful places where we have achieved precisely nothing except to boost our arms industry, and waste trillions of dollars of tax payer money, and worse, the loss of thousands of our troops.

The first victim here was a marginalized African American who is no doubt one of tens of thousands of black and hispanic people who have been gunned to death over the past century. Gunned down by police who have been trained to kill, rather than to arrest. An American police style that is not copied in other advanced countries, some of which don't even arm their police.

And the second victim was Mr Scott, yet another police officer who in the heat of the chase acted as a crazed pursuer that the police bosses have encouraged to get their crime resolution numbers up.

Some will will say that I am exagerating and disloyal. And I say to those people. Just look at the facts of the society we have created and we live in. It's disgraceful. And it is our own fault.

Mr Scott is not only likely a murderer. He's also a scapegoat.
Steven McCain (New York)
Let’s get real with this band aid everyone is demanding that be put on policing that is going the solve problem. Training and cameras are going to root out the evil that is in America's policing. Lets look at both of these novel ideas. First training, would someone explain what training manual will teach you not to shoot unarmed civilians? As far as cameras what is to stop a cop involved in a bad shooting from manipulating the camera. Those ten cops caught beating up the guy in California knew it was a news helicopter over them and they still did what they did. The camera on the news copter meant nothing to them. What really needs to be done is hire smarter cops! With all of the events of the past year what human being would still be doing the exact same things and thinking they could get away with it. With all of the scrutiny of policing now who it their right mind who wants to keep his job or his freedom would do what these guys keep doing. Do these guys really think they are invisible? As far as Slager is concerned I really could care less if he was a boy scout or a shy kid. For when he executed the man in S.C. he did not ask those questions of the man he hunted down and shot. Never do we hear of the families of killers now when the cop is the murderer its different. Sure cops have hard jobs but so do Marines. Marines do not go around shooting unarmed people. Training and cameras cannot fill the void left by the lack of leadership and discipline. These are not Rogue cops
nostone (brooklyn)
I agree that there are cops who don't measure up.
We need people who are smarter to go into that profession.
You can't expect to increase the level of competency to get the job and think those people won't want more money.
To get what you want we have to be willing to increase the taxes we pay
so we can pay the police what they deserve.
DR (New England)
Cameras won't do any harm and there's hard evidence to indicate that they help.
blackmamba (IL)
So what? He was human and came from broken home and had some personal issues while white and privileged individually human and unique. Few mother's can be honest about their sons. There was only one tragic human death here.

Both men were sons, husbands, brothers and fathers who served in the U.S. Coast Guard.

Only in America are armed threatening white men like Lee Harvey Oswald, James Earl Ray, Eric Rudolph, Eric Frein, Jared Loughner and James Holmes alive and well after being arrested. While unarmed while Black Walter Scott, Eric Garner, John Crawford and Tamir Rice are dead. And an armed threatening while white man like Cliven Bundy and his ilk are not even arrested .

Shooting a running human being in the back over a bad tail-light and a tussle is immoral, illegal, inexcusable, unprofessional and inhumane. And since the shooter was an armed, trained, badged and uniformed licensed and trained law enforcement professional he should not receive the benefit of any moral, legal, professional or media law or code or rule of doubt or presumption.
Air Marshal of Bloviana (Over the Fruited Plain)
RamS (New York)
While everyone has to face the consequences of their actions, I wonder if too much attention is being given to particular individuals and events rather than looking at the big picture of authoritarianism and criminal behaviour in a well off country.

It's a very human, and American thing to do - to try to pick ONE cause or person for everything, when the answer is far more complex. The entire celebrity culture we have is based on idolising a few humans for the work that is done by many. Similarly, I fear we're vilifying a few people for what is certainly a complex issue and problem.
JJB (Paris)
"The police" is an army of hundreds of thousands, or even millions, of individuals who are sometimes targets, sometimes aggressors. They live with violence 24/7. There are bad apples, and there are some who make bad judgements, and there are some who are victims, just like in all professions. Michael Slager was wrong, but not all police are guilty of murder.
Bates (MA)
"... not all police are guilty of murder." Good to hear.
No, not all police are guilty of murder, but when you see graphic evidence that a policeman, not threatened with imminent danger, feels entitled to shoot an unarmed man running away, one starts to believe that cops feel they can get away with murder. Other recent events reinforce this belief. The outcry against these incidents is an attempt to change the police culture that allows this behavior.
Kenya (Florida)
I see it this way. Officer Slager allowed testosteroneto "think" for him!
Hayden C. (Brooklyn)
Is there a reason why the media only gives extensive coverage to police shootings when it is white on black? There have been several equally disturbing shootings of unarmed whites in recent months. The difference is the officers in those cases have not been arrested while in this case they were arrested immediately.
In the immediate aftermath of the Paris terrorist attacks there was an outcry that a terrorist attack killing more people in Africa didn't get equal or greater attention. The public editor addressed that. I noticed very little sympathy from these people and no acknowledgment that 4 people were killed by a black man in an anti-Jewish hate crime. Yet every white on black death is quickly labeled a racist hate crime and race is brought up obsessively.
Please stop with the double standard. There is a huge disparity in coverage in your paper. Please stop giving black victims of whites, whether police or otherwise, a million times more coverage then when the victim is not black.
ST. G. (Pasadena, CA)
"Had the city followed up, he said, maybe Mr. Scott would still be alive, because Mr. Slager would have been removed from the force."

He bullied a civilian before, he got away scot-free. He thought he could get away with anything. This is why there are no "good cops" in America: Covering your bad-cop colleague makes you a partner in crime.

Think about it, had there not been a video from a brave passer-by, this man would've got away again.
pwjaffe (Bangkok, Thailand)
In London the police don't carry guns. That is what our police should do. Why? Because cops are fallible (not smart enough to make the right decision in the heat of a moment.) Safer for everyone; good guys and bad guys.)
Tara (New York)
Americans love their guns and these same people support the NRA, a dangerous combination. The politicians who want to do something are too cowered to oppose the NRA.
David (London)
While it's true that most police officers do not carry guns, a substantial number do. That is because the world has changed, and there are many armed terrorists, criminals, and gang members these days.

In fact, there have been a number of incidents over the years of the Metropolitan police shooting people in controversial circumstances. Cops, are indeed, fallible human beings.
Mason Jason (Walden Pond)
It's still South Carolina, and there's a good chance this man will be acquitted, despite the video tape.
Meredith Hoppin (Williamstown, Mass.)
I can feel sympathy for Mr. Slager's family (families), and even for Slager himself, while feeling far greater sympathy for Mr. Scott's family (families). Since Mr. Scott no longer lives and breathes, sympathy is no longer relevant; some other response is called for (grief, outrage).... But what I don't feel sympathy for: the NYT's identification of Mr. Scott as black under his picture in the sidebar, while Mr. Slager is not identified as white under his picture. Really, is the default in this red/black/brown/yellow/white nation still white? Whose default, white man?

Doing some research in NYT archives from the 1880's on the murder on Second Avenue in today's East Harlem of an Anglo-American (my great-great grandfather, so I know his background, but the paper never so identified him -- he just had a proper name that conveyed as much) by "ruffians" (code then for Irish, as their names given in the body of the articles made abundantly clear), I found myself absorbed by a sad story that caught my eye, of a Brooklyn man who murdered his wife, left a note, and then disappeared, probably to commit suicide. Very sad. At every turn, the article identified the people involved in the story as "Negroes."

NYT: either identify each person in an article or caption by "race" or so identify none (with allowance for contextual subtlety -- none here). Otherwise, we're still in the 1880's.
Jan H== (San Francisco)
Sad story, but Mr. Scott won't have much family time either. I can kill someone in my job, too, and if I do it won't make me a happier person. There needs to be some accountability, we have something in the constitution that is called "the rule of law".

Mr Slager failed on multiple levels: He shot an unarmed man EIGHT times in the back, tried to cover up his crime, failed to provide CPR, and lied about the incident after having time to think about it.

He will probably get two years, as the guy in Oakland. The other officers (who did not provide CPR either) will continue to serve and protect.
sloreader (CA)
It's not just Officer Slager, it's not just South Carolina and it's not just racism. The real problem is overzealous law enforcement from coast to coast, 24/7/365. The "thin blue line", aka law enforcement's willingness and desire to cover for their own, has the majority of the population in this country wondering whether or not the rule of law will prevail.
Ravalls (Finland)
"A brief tussle"? Please, journalists! These kinds of seemingly minor details have corrupted every one the cases that people have tried to use as examples of very real grievances.

Whatever you think about this case and whatever the court verdict, this was not a brief tussle. The Australian broadcast company has combined the two available videos in the same timeline with the police radio. The time from mr Scott starting to run from his car to the beginning of the shooting is one minute and 40 seconds.

The officer seems to catch mr Scott after 15 seconds chase, because he can be heard shouting a warning about using Taser. The rest of the time seems to have been spent fighting and wrestling on the ground. There are also some rumors that the Taser darts ended up hitting the police officer in the leg.

So, yes, it is likely that this was an illegal shooting, but it certainly was not a brief tussle. Check the facts before inventing narratives. Phony narratives don't help any cause.
Niloy (Malaysia)
As someone who is not American, but interacts on a close level with a lot of Americans, my take is:
1. There is a lot of racism which has gone under the surface since it is not politically correct to express these thoughts anymore.
2. In recent times, the right wing media led by Fox has fed these hidden sentiments and encouraged people to harden their prejudices
3. The election of President Obama has been a lightning rod for these thoughts hardening prejudices further.
4. The net result is perfectly decent human beings can still hold very deep dark thoughts on this subject.

I have had conversations where a tertiary educated senior executive in a large multi-national corporation with global exposure has said to me "I do not think Obama will leave the country in a position where whites will still be welcome".

For a person with these dark thoughts inside; in a struggle, with a gun in their hand, the result is exactly what happened here.
Wally Weet (Seneca)
The quote about loss of welcome for whites above sounds like a quote from a Southerner during Reconstruction. That was the period of interest for D.W. Griffith the film make who made heroes out of Southern white guerillas who banded together to terrorize black people because "they are not us." To those who have been raised or conditioned by that bigotry Obama is not one of us. One of the intertitles of that movie make the point precisely: the Civil War and Reconstruction gave birth to a new nation of Aryans.
George Bill (Tuson)
Mr. Murdoch is satan, and Roger Ailes is Beelzebub, and Shelly Adelson should be sued by Harpo Marx for defaming his image.
USExpat (Paris, France)
Not to in any way condone the inexcusable murder this man committed, or certainly his falsifying of the evidence, one factor in the training of police officers that needs to be seriously rethought is the automatic firing reflex that develops after many, many hours of fire arms training. Especially when an officer’s authority is challenged, his ‘reflex brain’ may act faster than his thinking brain, sometimes leading to tragic “shoot first, ask questions later” scenarios. I doubt if this man is inherently a vicious racist so much as poorly trained to manage his reflexes in the heat of the moment.
Michael O'Neill (Bandon, Oregon)
I think it were best if his mother not watch the video. Even ex-officer Slager will probably never know why he did it.
Nightwood (MI)
He's scorned because we the people are sick and tired of cops killing black people.

I cannot get the video of Eric Garner out of my mind. The arm of that well muscled cop, straining to push Garner's face against the sidewalk, as if the cop thought he could push his face straight INTO the sidewalk.

I am sickened by all the videos. These are not movies or TV shows. What we are seeing is cold blooded murders. Shame on this country. This must stop.
Mr. Robin P Little (Conway, SC)

The liberal press sure is getting a lot of mileage out of this case of gross police misconduct. Whatever happened within Mr. Slager on the day he killed Mr. Scott is not something even he is aware of, if we believe his mother, who spoke to him while he was in jail. He should be scared to death because his old life is over. His police union knows police officers can't just go around shooting suspects to death. It doesn't take a bunch of geniuses to figure this out.

Mr. Slager is not somebody who should be a police officer, if that isn't obvious already. I hope he does some serious jail time after getting a fair trial. He doesn't know who he is and needs plenty of time to ponder this riddle.

Meanwhile, the black-white morality play keeps getting written by the predominantly Northern liberal press. Can we give this story a rest, please? What if Mr. Scott had been white? Would the press being making such a big fuss about this case? I doubt it. This could have happened anywhere in the U.S., and actually, if you look at how many police officers have killed people in the past 10 years in the U.S. while supposedly arresting them, it has happened quite often.
georgebaldwin (Florida)
Give this story a rest? Why? So the Darren Wilsons of the world can tell a black man to "Get The F Out Of The Street" and then shoot him to death when he doesn't. Or so Slager can pump 8 bullets into the back of a man running away, then fabricate a story? Both these rogue cops lied when they said they feared for their lives, knowing that mantra will help them skate. If there was a video of Wilson gunning down Michael Brown, he'd be on trial for Murder, too.
Deering (NJ)
I'm so sorry that lethal racist police misconduct bores you. And I'm sure the idea that cops who get away with this stuff eventually turn on _everyone_ is a real yawner for you, too.
Dee (WNY)
I guess the larger question is: Would Officer Slager have stopped, let alone shot, Walter Scott if he had been white?
Slager did what he did because he knew that the odds were he would get away with it.
The evidence is there: most fatal police encounters consist of white officers and black men.
Footprint (NYC)
If people were either all good or all bad, life would be simple.
Anne (Montana)
Could the New York Times also write an article like this on Walter Scott?
Tom Cuddy (Texas)
This is the result of the volunteer Army. Those who chose to wear the uniform are a privileged warrior class and the police, former public servants, call non police 'civilians' and try to put themselves under the penumbra of the UNiform. Police are civilians. Until they refer to themselves that way and the media stop calling non police civilians we will have this problem
Dmj (Maine)
This sad story gives the lie to the NRA propaganda that guns don't kill, people kill.
The obvious problem is that police officers are too willing to use their guns, as is the public in general. If they didn't have the guns they couldn't kill.
It's that simple.
Anne (Montana)
I would like to see also a fairly long article where I could get to know Michael Scott better also-his childhood, his family, his work, what his family are going through. I guess I am curious about the policeman but I am more curious to know about the man who is no longer among the living because of being shot in the back after a traffic stop for a broken tail light. What was Scott's family background and what was his personality like? Scott is smiling so broadly in his Coast Guard picture.
Steve Hutch (New York)
I’m sure most officers are nice guys growing up and around their family. But who knows what happens to them when they put on a uniform that gives them the authority to capture other human beings. And giving this power to weak individuals is asking for trouble as they struggle to deal with fearful situations.

As long as America supports citizens owning guns then the police will always live in fear for their lives. So this problem is not going away.

In the meantime the public needs to demand retraining of its public servants. Officers need to be reminded that wearing the uniform means they are servants to the public and are here to protect us from one another. Therefore, in what way was a man fleeing a car a threat to the public? The police believe their “authority” is the law. And those who do not comply with their authority should be pursued and captured. This is very different from arresting people who are a threat to others.

If we continue to train recruits to be “Law Enforcement Officers” they will go out and force the public to obey no matter the cost. But if we train recruits to be “Officers of the Law” maybe we could encourage them to think of themselves more like public officials who encourage and advise the public to live lawfully.
Encourage ? Advise ? Are you delusional ? Criminals are where they are because they don't respond to encouragement and advice. Such notions are something I might hear from a community organizer.
This article seems is making an effort to show Slager as an okay guy. You can't be okay when you are a police officer with no regard for human life. I would not treat a dog, cat, or ladybug the way that Slager treated Scott. Nothing in Slager's life story changes or excuses it. It is not police training, it is the person who is hired to be the police officer.
Karen (New York)
I agree. The damning factor is the failure to give aid after the shooting. There is something so phenomenally cold about that.
lou andrews (portland oregon)
His mother says, "I think he's scared to death". I truly hope so. Now he knows what most people of color who are confronted by police feel- "Scared to Death". May this be a wake up call, finally for all police officers , everywhere.
mary (PA)
I'm struck by the fact that this public employee had a wife who didn't send the children to a public school. The article refers to the policeman as a shy loner. I think it sounds as though he was isolated from his community, which can never be a good thing for people who have public service jobs.
Graham K. (San Jose, CA)
North Charleston schools are pretty terrible in places. Home school isn't a bad option there.
michjas (Phoenix)
Humanizing those who have been dismissed as inhuman helps us to understand that ordinary people often do the things that we label unconscionable. Too many believe that what happened here was an evil police officer doing what other evil police officers do on a regular basis. In fact, as this article suggests, Mr. Slager was an imperfect man whose motives remain difficult to fathom. And his actions are those of a single individual, not necessarily representative of the police in general. Intelligent folks will absorb the information here in an effort to understand this particular case. Those who demonize white cops will ignore the substance of what is revealed here. It takes courage to tell the real story of Mr. Slager because most have dismissed him as a heartless murderer. Articles like this remind us that life is complicated. Thank you.
jzu (Cincinnati, OH)
michjas, you got it exactly the wrong way. It is the character, training, and value system that shapes the police force. Officer Slager may be a welcome member in a police force trained and enabled to serve rather than being warriors. Perhaps Officer Slager is not the socially most stable person. It is the police force culture that may have made him the monster he seems to be on this video,
J (New York)
"Humanizing those who have been dismissed as inhuman helps us to understand that ordinary people often do the things that we label unconscionable."

That's an interesting comment. While I agree with you, I can't help but notice that the media consistently goes out of its way to humanize white offenders by pointing out all of the outside influences that may have led to him or her committing whatever atrocity, but yet make it a point to dehumanize black victims of police brutality by outlining all of the reasons why the victim's attacker had every reason to shoot, kill, or maim said victim. When Trayvon Martin was killed, the media was flooded with stories about particles of marijuana found in his backpack. When Eric Garner was killed, the media was flooded with stories about Garner selling cigarettes illegally and "resisting arrest." When Tamir Rice was killed, it was, "He shouldn't have been playing with a toy gun in the street." Now, even with all of this evidence against Michael Slager, the perpetrator, we're humanizing the killer and trying to "make sense" of why he killed Mr. Walter Scott. Where is the humanizing, full length feature article on Walter Scott? Or is it enough to know that he was behind on child support and ran away from a not-so-routine traffic stop?
Blue State (here)
Why do we not see such nuance in descriptions of victims of police shootings?They are all just black men with records; no nuance there. Save your thanks, and next time the NYT jumps to champion a victim who also has a record, thank the Times for being nuanced in its reporting instead of castigating for being liberal.
Sphinxfeather (<br/>)
So....they give this nice full-length article to humanize Mr. Slager, talking about how shy and sensitive he is, and how sad his mother is, and then bump the man he killed to a side-bar mug-shot and bullet points?

Mr. Scott has just as many human qualities, and has family who cared and loved about him just as much. And he is the one who died for no reason. I hope the NY Times will do a full article on him as well.
Jack (NY)
Right on. One look at the video and everyone knows the perp is a cold blooded murder who shot a fleeing man like a mad dog. Shame.
BSB (Princeton)
I believe the editors are still trying to get past the fact that Mr. Scott owed $18,000 in back child support, had an outstanding warrant for his arrest, and was driving an unregistered and uninsured car.
rjd (nyc)
A very touching portrait if it weren't for the fact that this man, entrusted with upholding the law, did not feel like chasing after this other guy a second time and so he simply just shot him in the back at least 5 times. Then, to add insult to injury, he falsified evidence by planting his weapon next to the dying man and proceeded to calmly cuff the lifeless body face down on the ground.
So now we are to believe that it was the training that made him do it........! Really? Hasn't this disgraceful excuse for a police officer done enough damage to law enforcement nationwide without creating even more controversy.
He should be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law .......and then some!
Carmela Sanford (Niagara Falls, New York)
Institutionalized police training is part of the problem here. It goes with the corporate desire to control all aspects of our collective lives: from health care to elementary education to prison management. Another part of the problem is the failure of some police departments to understand what presumption of innocence is and why it's ingrained in our psyches as United States citizens.

The third side of the problem triangle is racism and what seems to be the common thread in all of these shooting and chokehold deaths that a black male is considered a criminal because he's black.

Granted, I do not think Mr. Scott should be buying a Mercedes when he owes child support, but that has absolutely no role to play in his being shot in the back and then treated inhumanely as he lay on the ground.

I would also like to see a similar, carefully written story about Mr. Scott's life. He at least deserves that.
Daniel Wong (San Francisco, CA)
"He's scared to death", Ms. Sharpe? Mr. Scott is _actually_ dead. Whatever fears your son has pale in comparison to the fate hole doled out while in the line of duty. This sympath for the perpetrator coupled with blatant disregard for the real victim would be truly mind-boggling if it did not come from his mother. Otherwise, it would clearly be a case of thinly veiled, yet bizzarely self-unaware racism. If that was anyone else's reaction, they have some demons within themselves that need immediate reckoning.

Ironic how the government insists it is entitled to monitor all our private electronic activity, yet bristle at the thought of bystanders videoing police actions carried out in plain view. Police need to carry cameras so that EVERY police action is recorded.

For the > 99% of cops who faithfully carry out their duties, such cameras would protect them. It boggles my mind that police resist such cameras. It is an embarrassment that in the year 2015, this is not yet standard practice. Nearly every civillian has a camera in their pocket. So should the police.

We were lucky to have this video, but we need to rule out luck for the next Mr. Scott by putting cameras on every cop. As this episode (again) proves, such cameras would be invaluable and save lives.
J (New York)
Amen. Well said!
Tom (san francisco)
Respectfully, I disagree with the idea that >99% of officers are legitimate public servants. The police in general are corrupt and isolated from society. They tend to cover for one another and believe that any officer attempting to point out illegal or problematic behavior is a "rat" who should be expelled from the scared priesthood of "protecting and serving" society. Our daughter was raped by a cop after a traffic stop. The officer was ultimately convicted, but dozens of officers would tell me that most cops "knew" the guy was not a good cop. When I asked why they never did anything about their sense that he was a bad cop they mouthed weak excuses about no evidence. The truth is that cops cover for one another, and I'll bet all the money in my pockets that most cops in North Charleston knew that Slager was a bomb waiting to go off and opted for solidarity rather than exposure of a dangerous cop and advancing the protection of citizens. The failure to support him, in the current climate of harsh light being cast on all manner of police misconduct, is simply covering the collective behind of the NC police department. We should pay cops $100,000 a year to attract the best and brightest, require extensive and constant psychological testing, and implement real and genuine civilian control over those who are authorized to take life. Instead we end up with shy loners, racists, and misfits who follow a code of omerta as absolute as the Mafia's.
The Bull Moose (Manhattan)
This is a strikingly evenhanded view of the criminal-police officer.
Not what one expects from the NYTimes.
Bob Dobbs (Santa Cruz, CA)
Whatever his personality, he does not seem like a person who pushes boundaries without support. When he shot that man, there was apparently no hesitation or shock as he smoothly went about falsifying evidence and building a story that would protect him. He knew what to do. Where did he learn it? Who taught him? Who told him, or signaled him, that it was acceptable?
Deering (NJ)
Possibly either an older cop partner or a "rabbi" (a police officer's mentor.)
Phoenix (California)
Your description of the likely response of the entire LEO team of Slager is exactly why he showed no authentic concern for having murdered an unarmed citizen in cold blood and then reset the staging of the murder. He knew the Thin Blue Line would circle the wagons around him. THAT'S what he'd been taught. No sweat.
Geraldine (Denver)
I wish failure to pay child support hadn't been described as a "minor offense" under Mr. Scott's photo.
Bikerbudmatt (Cheshire, CT)
Geraldine from Denver wishes that "failure to pay child support hadn't been described as a 'minor offense'."

In the context of the family sphere, women and men living up to their obligation to support their children financially is critical.

In the context of a police officer killing an unarmed man, it is a truly minor detail—and Mr. Scott's delinquency in this regard cannot be raised to the status of a capital offense.
RafaRodz (Puerto Rico)
I understand your point, but is failure to pay child support, whether it is a "minor" or "major" offense, tantamount to a death sentence? A man lost his life because his taillight was broken, he owed child support, but mostly because he was born with the wrong color skin. It scares me to know that anyone can be executed by an officer of the law, in such a manner, shot in the back five times, handcuffed while dying, evidence planted, and probably getting away with it if the truly courageous citizen wasn't there to film it all. I wonder what the outcome would have been if a video did not exist. That scares me even more.
Jay (Green Bay)
But certainly not major enough a crime to get shot like an animal, Geraldine! In Illinois recently, a one term congressman who was a TEA party darling was known as a deadbeat dad! He got votes and tax payer funded income during his term as congressman! What a contrast!
David (Redmond, WA)
It seems like, when a poor, minority person commits a murder, no one cares about their early life, and they are just labelled a heinous monster for one action they took, once in their life. Jail is full of people like that. When a policeman is accused of a crime, suddenly it's relevant what they were like in the second grade. The fact is, he calmly pulled out his gun, took aim and murdered a man. End of discussion.
skeptic (LA)
If you listen to the audio, there was quite a long pause before the last shot. How will he explain that?
jordan a (tacoma)
There have been over a dozen shootings of unarmed white people, including teenage girls, since Michael Browns shooting. Many of them were caught on tape like this incident. There was one that was very similar to this one but the officer wasn't arrested until months earlier. Why do none of them lead to an outpouring of grief for the victim, their family, and community? Why are the cops never the object of nationwide furor or international media coverage? I've read a dozen articles in this paper in the past few days about this tragic incident. There was similar coverage of the shooting of Michael Brown, Jordan Davis, Renisha McBride, Tamir Rice, Eric Brown, Trayvon Martin. Why is their never similar coverage for even one the many equally tragic incidents involving a victim who was not of African America decent? There are an awful lot of them but you wouldn't know it by the media coverage.
Laura Carr (Triad, NC)
A dozen shootings of unarmed white people in the last 7 or 8 months? How does that compare to over 100 unarmed white people shot by police each year when blacks comprise 14% of the population? In fact, 41% of shootings of unarmed people by police are black according to a report by Mapping Police Violence. I attended a workshop where the speaker asked a large, well-educated and financially successful but racially diverse audience how many had ever had their vehicles searched during a traffic stop. No Caucasians raised their hands. Some black members had their vehicles searched on as many 5 different occasions.

Media coverage is a result of this racial disparity in policing, which has been reported by the black community for decades and dismissed by the white majority holding positions of authority.
Hayden C. (Brooklyn)
Laura, there are 3 times more shootings of whites by the police then there are blacks. Blacks murder twice as many whites as visa versa. Almost 7 if 10 acts of interracially violence have a black perp. But our media only obsesses about incidents involving black victims and white perps. It is racist. T
Your stats come from an advocacy group. Mine come from Eric Holders DOJ.
There was a Rabbi shot but 2 black males months ago in Florida. They have not been caught. Why isn't it being called racially motivated like Trayvon's death? Why aren't people protesting his death and that his killer is free? The lack of coverage, anger, and advocacy over black on non-black killings is very, very racist as is bring up race on every white on black killing but omitting it when its black on nonblack, even when its a pattern of violence.
Bhaskar (Dallas)
A good guy with a gun … how does it go, NRA?
Air Marshal of Bloviana (Over the Fruited Plain)
The National Rifle Association is the leading authority on proper use of firearms by its members, many of whom are currently serving, have served or will serve in our armed forces and law enforcement agencies.
Tom (ca)
I hope the Poilce department should taking care of Mr Slager family .

God bless
CK (Rye)
Done as a reward or payback; it's not a bright idea to hire men from the various military services to be cops. Service jobs are in are artificial workplaces under artificial circumstances rather than in communities under normal life, the military reaction, conformity, and groupthink are what we don't need in cops. And if you've noticed, lots of cops were in the military, and lots of cops have lots of problems. Rethink considering military service an asset for a cop.
Melissa Levine (California)
Tasers seem like an instrument of torture. Do the police officers in their training have any experience with what it feels like to be tasered themselves, which can deliver, I have read, 50,000 volt shocks. It could make someone completely panicked. Perhaps the police wouldn't be so free and loose (as Mr. Slager was by tasering Mario Givens as discussed) if they had personal experience. It's also can be lethal. In Fairfax County Jail, on April 11th, the police tasered and killed a restrained mentally ill woman.
sherry (South Carolina)
The answer to your question is "yes." Even small town police departments require that training of officers includes the experience of being hit with a taser.
theni (phoenix)
In two incidents on the freeway, one in Missouri and the other in Louisiana, I was stopped by a cop with a drawn and pointed gun. In both instances, I was just plain lucky I suppose, that the cop did not pull the trigger. Needless to say I did not even get a citation in both cases and it was just a case of "mistaken" identity. I wonder how many of these cases take place every day and how many "mistaken" persons survive?
chickenlover (Massachusetts)
There is always "the other side" to any story. And in this case there is "another person" who is in the docks. Of course one can argue that Scott is dead and, at least, Slager is alive. But who would want to be in Slager's shoes now?
I understand that being sentimental may provide me with a cover to exonerate Slager for an otherwise unpardonable act. And I don;t think that is wrong to try to look at a more complete picture of a man rather than a sliver that is captured in a 4:09 minute video.
I do hope that these series of episodes of police brutality puts our local law enforcement on to a different and low key tract. Over the past few years policing has morphed into a military type activity. This transformation has only been exacerbated with the military dumping all kinds of arsenal into the hands of the all-too-happy-to-receive police units across the country. It is time to deescalate. Remember the Bobbies in the UK do not carry even guns, except in Northern Ireland. Is the entire United States under siege like Northern Ireland?
skanik (Berkeley)
I have seen two videos:

In the first video Mr. Scott is stopped for a faulty taillight.
He and Officer Slager have a conversation and then Officer Slager
goes back to his vehicle.
After a short time, Mr. Scott jumps out of his Mercedes and begins to run.
Officer Slager pursues him - both of the men run out of the camera's view.

In the second video Mr. Scott is running from Officer Slager and
Officer Slager fires at him multiple times. It appears Mr. Scott is hit
in the upper leg and begins to stagger he is then hit again and again
and collapses to the ground.

Officer Slager handcuffs Mr. Scott, another office shows up and
conducts a very brief check on Mr. Scott.
There appears to have been an object at Officer Slager's leg that he brings
over and drops by Mr. Scott.

I have read that Officer Slager tasered/or attempted to taser Mr. Scott
and there was a struggle and then Mr. Scott ran again and was shot.

Is it Police policy to keep shooting until the person stops running or drops
to the ground via their wounds ?

Is it Police policy to shoot someone who runs after an altercation involving
a Taser and/or struggle over a Taser ?

Would the New York Times please thoroughly investigate the whole sad
and tragic death so we don't have to rely upon information thrust into
the public spotlight over this tragedy.

Can all of us please refrain from judging and condemning either Mr. Scott
or Officer Slager until all the evidence is produced and weighed and adjudged.
"Can all of us please refrain from judging and condemning either Mr. Scott
or Officer Slager until all the evidence is produced and weighed and adjudged."

The only thing publications like the NYTimes have on their minds are the reaction and not the cause. To most, what leads up to an event like this is entirely irrelevant. Instead, there are failed attempts to deflect away from the underlying issue and in this case, the topic of "police tactics against Blacks", yet in every single encounter, the cops is usually pretty cordial and 9 times out of 10, there is justifiable reasoning behind the stop/arrest, etc. I just don't know what people want in this case. We are nation based on laws. At no point have I seen in any of these events, anyones civil rights being violated and everyone knows that. In fact, since the police chief already took action, Sharpton had nothing or no one to go after (or so we thought) and this morning, he is going after the "other" officers. It's all a farce. A situation (like many others) that should never have happened and almost always manufactured by the perp or criminal, yet the officer is always the one to take the heat. It's just too bad we've come to this point in our society.
Lynn in DC (um, DC)
No. We do not have to refrain from judging and condemning anyone. Innocent until proven guilty applies only in the judicial system. Anyone not serving on the jury or otherwise involved in the Slager case is free to make up his/her mind at any time. Sorry.
concerned (West Coast)
His first lawyer quit after the video surfaced. But wasn't the video the catalyst that got him fired? I wonder why he would have needed a lawyer before the video became public.
Pacifica (Orange County, CA)
Really, all the Times could muster was just dehumanizing side points on Mr. Scott, while delving deeply into his killer's past? Or, have you already written a detailed piece on Walter Scott which presents him as more than just another statistic? If so, how about a link?
EuroAm (Ohio, USA)
One incident doesn't define a person's life...but it can ruin it.
Rick C (SC)
Killers? Talks cheap, isn't it. The typical police officer never shoots anyone during their career. Never. And as for the typical police officer being the type of person who shouldn't be a police officer, that's totally untrue. The wrong 'type' have very short careers. They are constantly in trouble, constantly getting either their sheriff or their dept. in hot water and/or political turmoil, and are quickly terminated. Most police officers are very sincere folks who get into law enforcement for the right reasons. Unfortunately, up north particularly, the unions protect police officers who should be terminated. That's not the case in states, and in departments, where unions are not present. As for officer Slager, he was wrong. He panicked. And he performed an act that he will pay for for the rest of his life. He will be charged with manslaughter and receive about 25 years, rightfully so. (He will not be charged with murder, as they will be unable to prove intent.) Those of you who believe cops are killers are paranoid. Are there a few cops who kill? Sure. There are bad cops just as there are bad ministers, bad priests, bad doctors, and bad politicians. Fortunately, most are good.
Asa (Earth)
I think his mother should watch the video of her son murdering a, harmless, fleeing man. Then tell us how wonderful and kind your son is. Or not.
sherry (South Carolina)
Although I think your verbage is harsh and inflammatory, I do agree with your basic premise. Mr. Slager's mother does not seem to realize that she is not helping her son. Parents love their children. Of course she loves her son. She does not seem to realize that saying repeatedly, "I haven't watched that video." is harmful to him. The officer's mother is effectively saying publicly that she acknowledges that she may see something that could shake her belief that her son did not intend to take a life. That is not to say that I think the officer INTENDED to kill Mr. Scott, but there are people in jail because their rash,over the top actions led to the death of another human being. There are only two ways to cause the death of another human being and not find oneself charged with murder: A terrible and unavoidable accident or self defense. The video shows neither. Officer Slager's mother can best help her son by being quiet in public.
Harry (Michigan)
Cerebral, sensitive, thoughtful applicants need not apply. Our police departments only want macho hotheads, if you don't kick butt you won't fit in.
Dean H Hewitt (Sarasota, FL)
Sorry to say but there is something severely wrong with this person. What ever it was caused him to believe that he could use deadly force to kill a person, goes against the beliefs most of us have. He will pay for this for the rest of his life.
neoyorquino (bronx)
It is unconscionable yet not surprising that the NYT yet again spends an article interviewing a killer cop's family and friends to explain how "rough" his childhood was, how he was a good kid, how he "struggled" to adjust, how nobody can believe this could have happened, etc. Yet the victim AGAIN gets just a mention of arrests, overdue child-support payments and a few bullet points (no pun intended) as a side-note to the actual article. What is the intention here, Mr. Editor? To continue to dehumanize black victims of police violence while simultaneously humanizing killer cops who MURDER us with our backs turned? One looks at this NYT page and wonders, "Who is the human being here?" Clearly it's the cop, since 3 Times reporters took the time to investigate his complicated life that led him to "making a mistake". The other guy, what's-his-name... is simply dead. No investigative bio feature necessary for whats-his-name-the-dead-guy. Oh well.
Aurther Phleger (Sparks, NV)
The NYT and other papers consistently characterize the facts of the incident in an unfavorable light for the officer. They say "shot after a routine traffic stop" which vaguely leaves the impression that he was executed because of a broken taillight. The reality is he was shot after fleeing, violently resisting arrest and knocking the taser from the officer's possession to the ground. The article it says "instead of giving chase, the officer fired." True, but that characterization obscures the fact that the officer had already given chase was unable to subdue him through a struggle on the ground (the male eyewitness) and through a separate "tussle" (the female eyewitness) or with the taser. The articles consistently give the impression that shooting was his first resort when in fact it was his last. The shooting is still unjustified and criminal but the degree of criminality is significantly diminished if it occurs in the context of violence and resisting arrest. The officer was very polite, friendly and professional during the initial encounter. By fleeing and tussling with the officer, Scott plays a very significant role in his own death. My bet is this guy gets 3 to 5 years which is about what he deserves.
Jim Mc (Savannah)
So the apparently uninjured Officer Slager decided to execute Mr. Scott after a "tussle".

If the penalty for "tussling" with a cop is eight shots in the back as you run away, we are in a lot of trouble. I hope you aren't a cop.
Gary Ferrini (Shenandoah Valley)
Atle what point considering the events as you recount them, including that the suspect was fleeing, did it become necessary or reasonable to gun him down? I understand what you are saying but this was not the pursuit of a murderer or armed burglar or anything close and had he gotten away, he could have been arrested later
Deering (NJ)
Did you miss the part where the officer planted the taser/evidence to bolster his story? Last I heard, that's hardly upholding the law...
It seems to me that Officer Slager should have been dismissed after tasing Mr. Givens. Why, with at least two witnesses, the investigation of such an incident would be drawn out is hard to fathom.

The killing of Mr. Scott was a tragedy, compounded by Slager and other police officers neglecting to do anything to revive Mr. Scott after disabling him, as well as their cavalier and uncaring attitude after the incident.

In hindsight, if the thought of being arrested for unpaid child support was Mr. Scott's motivation for running from the vehicle, garnisheeing the wages of those in arrears would be a far better option than allowing the debt to accumulate to the point at which arrest would be mandatory. Failing to pay child support is as offensive, and, because one is knowingly denying funds to those children whom one has helped to bring into the world and whom one is supposed to love and to care for, perhaps even more offensive, than paying the taxes one owes; in other words, although not violent, it is not a "minor" offense. Neither is it an excuse to murder someone.

What is the story behind the car? That confirmation of Mr. Scott's account has not been provided seems odd. Did Officer Slager think it was stolen? Again, not a rationale for shooting a fleeing man.

In my humble opinion, more women on the police force would result in more judicious use of force and certainly a less macho attitude. Law enforcement should more closely resemble the population it serves.
Bethannm (connecticut)
Completely agree that law enforcement should reflect the community it serves. I wonder what the demographic breakout of the police force that serves N Charleston is.
JJ (Bangor, ME)
It is not that he did NOT pay child support, he was BEHIND. Plus, he was further burdened with court fees, which put him further behind.

You may be living in an alternate reality, but sometimes people are behind making good on their debts, because they don't make enough money. Child support is nothing else but such a debt. If he NEVER paid anything you may have a case, but that is unlikely given the number of children and the amount he owed.

This can be resolved differently. For instance, if the mother thought that the only way to collect from a deadbeat was by arresting him, then she could have gone to his house with a police officer. There are other more civilized solutions to this MINOR problem than just issuing warrants and arresting or shooting people on the street.
Joker (Gotham)
No, he wasn't "desensitized", at training, the likely real problem is he had no business being in a job where he would be called on to use judgement on deadly force. The guy obviously had problems in some way, right from childhood, with human social interactions, while he could still have succeeded at many things, you cannot know that such a person would exercise foresight and the best judgement (and do so continuously over a long career) in very short term decisions with a gun in his hand. One wonders if his family ever gave thought as to whether their son, with his issues should be going into this line of work. It is too blithe, they way people overlook mental issues when it comes to who handles guns in this country; too many examples.

Another thing this demonstrates is the preferential "white bro" working class pipeline into the police/fire complex, which is explanatory as to how a borderline profile guy can "hide" in a secure position in the space. You start out at the end of high school as volunteer at your local fire suburban fire dept, they write you up with recs, you check a couple more boxes, typically including short stint in the military, and there is a lifetime police job waiting for you in a majority white police force somewhere, you have the resume. There are other reasons for the oft noted minority under representation in police, but this network certainly plays a role.
K Henderson (NYC)
"The guy obviously had problems in some way, right from childhood, with human social interactions"

No pointed at you but isnt this just cheap psychoanalysis that makes it easy to label people as having "social problems" AFTER they did something very wrong?
Ted Flunderson (San Francisco)
The neighbors may be right about the police training desensitizing him. An acquaintance just went through marine boot camp and said he was depressed at how much of it was geared towards turning people into killing machines.

I just wish that police were taught to retreat rather than engage when they feel threatened. There's no shame in being conservative with deadly force.
doktorij (Eastern Tn)
Ummm what was your acquaintance expecting?
JJ (Bangor, ME)
There's a difference to the military and the police. In war, other rules of engagement prevail. A soldier goes into battle knowing that it is either to kill or be killed. Any hesitation there and you are history.

I sincerely hope that is not the mindset of our police, at least most of them. Otherwise, God help us!
I'm sorry, but isn't the whole point of Marine boot-camp to turn people into Marines? And what are Marines? They are a fighting force, first and foremost. Seems to me preparing them to be able to kill people when necessary in combat situations is one of the primary points of boot-camp.
Glinda Goodwitch (St. Louis)
The comment by the mother “She and I are agreeing on the fact that we both believe that something happened in the training,” may hold a clue on how policing is done now days. Too many multiple shot murders of both blacks and whites by police in recent times. There has to be a way of training police to negotiate first and use of non-lethal weapons second. An officer firing a gun at anyone must become a rare occurrence. I believe the training must be changed.
Casey (Brooklyn)
Perhaps a trainee should be subject to loud sirens or even a little mini-taser jolt every time he/she draws a weapon prematurely and even flunked if he does that repeatedly. Perhaps a trainee should be educated on the issue of fear and loathing of the black man.
lamplighter55 (Yonkers, NY)
“Just a nice kid, you know,” said Nancy Thomas. “He was a little shy,” she added.

“I remember him being always very respectful to me..."

They always say things like this about serial killers, too. It doesn't mean a thing.
Deering (NJ)
Guys like this are always nice to people who are like them--or aren't at their mercy.
Great Lakes State (Michigan)
Well lamplighter55, it does mean something. It means that he was struggling mentally, and did not receive help with these struggles. I have witnessed far far too many incidences working education, children struggling, while adults stand on the sidelines, ignoring the obvious. I feel as deeply for this man and his family as I do Mr. Scott's family. This situation in nothing but hell.
dkensil (mountain view, california)
Well, it might, in fact, mean something: it might mean that we are not able to predict someone's future action(s) by judging how calmly they act at say, at the church, mosque or synagogue? As you might agree, much if not all of our behavior is situational. We need to find ways to select police personnel who do not have poor impulse control. (I am not making any case here for leniency for Mr. Slager whose trial and imprisonment may be a "sad positive role model/lesson" for all police personnel in this nation.
Back in the Day... (Asheville, NC)
Just let him run away and arrest him when things have cooled off. Is that so difficult?
Zejee (New York)
Are you equating a broken tail light with murder?
Cheeky Bum (East Butte Montana)
Nice? He even handcuffed the corpse!
Deering (NJ)
While commanding the dying man to put his hands behind his back. Yeah, a real angel, this dude...
Sara G. (New York, NY)
And the dying man's face was planted nose first/face down into the ground, with no attempt to move his face sideways. Simply inhumane.
Lizbeth (NY)
"I think he's scared to death."

Really? He wasn't too scared to shoot a man in the back. He wasn't too scared to handcuff his dying victim. He wasn't too scared to plant a taser near the body in an attempt to place the blame on the dead man. Not to mention, of course, that he just shot a man to death, literally--I'm not too concerned about him being emotionally frightened.
Steve Bolger (New York City)
He will have to be held in protective custody in jail or he'll be killed by another inmate.
L (Massachusetts)
I disagree, Lizbeth. It seems to me that just about everything Officer Slager did that day was out of fear.

He stopped a black man driving a Mercedes, allegedly because of a broken taillight. Would he have stopped a 50-year old white man? Would a 50-year old white man received more than just a warning in conversation? I think Slager feared Scott had stolen the car.

Mr. Scott was unarmed. According to his brothers, he fled because there was a warrant against him for back child support and he didn't want to go to jail. The patrol car dashboard camera shows him fleeing without physical altercation with the officer. Slager had Scott's ID; he knew who he was. Why didn't he chase him, or even let him get away? I think Slager feared repercussions from his commanding officer because Scott fled.

Slager planted the taser next to Scott's body to create a story of self-defense to save himself because he feared consequences of shooting an unarmed man running away from him.

Why did Slager handcuff Scott after he was laying face down in the grass dead? Because Slager feared even a dead black man.

And lastly, do you think any of this would have happened to a 50-year old sober white man? I think Slager feared Scott for no other reason than he was black. Slager's childhood is completely irrelevant. He hunted and murdered Walter Scott [a black man].
Dean S (Milwaukee)
So the moral of the story is that police culture will corrupt even a really nice guy?
Casey (Brooklyn)
That's affirmative, Dean.
Fed Up (USA)
The former neighbor, Mrs. Shay. hit the nail on the head saying that Slager had become "desensitized" after receiving training from the police dept. Is that what they are teaching to those who allegedly "protect and serve?" I STRONGLY believe that is happening with today's quasi-military police depts. nationwide. I sure miss Barney Fife!
DR (New England)
Better yet Sheriff Andy, who believed in using common sense.
Michael L Hays (Las Cruces, NM)
Slager learns that he can shoot the wrong person, who also is no threat to him or others, and be exonerated. He shoots someone else also no threat to anyone on the assumption that he will be exonerated again. He does not keep up with the news or the reality of ubiquitous video phones. Surprise: he finds himself in a different uniform on the other side of the bars. How did this happen? His training and his leaders taught him that he could get away with it--until he couldn't. He should be tried, but so should they as accomplices before the fact.
K Henderson (NYC)

Oh great; Here begins the usual propaganda process where the cop is painted as just one lone "bad apple" because that will minimize the national problem of USA local cops killing citizens for no reason. The unions want this PR spin because it waives their implication. Virtually every politician wants this spin because they dont have to change any laws. Be wary of articles like this folks.
Michael S (Wappingers Falls, NY)
The article make Mr Slager out as a sort of robocop: a social remote person who took his police training literally without having the facility to evaluate the situation and determine appropriate force. If this is the case there is clearly a deficiency in police training. It is not enough to teach someone to shot, you need to teach them the appropriate use of force and to evaluate trainees to determine whether they are emotionally capable of making those sorts of decisions.
dkensil (mountain view, california)
The issue at hand with Mr. Slager is the question: Can certain behaviors be trained into us or is it that our inherent temperament, maturity, impulse control, etc. is a major (overlooked?) factor which must be judged when police - and we - act incorrectly? It's arguable that no amount of training could have prevented Mr. Slager from doing what he did.
Romaine Johnson (Dallas, Texas)
And where's the story detailing the life of the victim - Mr. Walter L. Scott? A story that shows him as more than someone who owed back child support and driving an unregistered car with a broken headlight? Waiting…still…
Michael S (Wappingers Falls, NY)
It is difficult to see what relevance Walter Scott's backstory has in this situation. Saint or sinner it was either murder or appropriate use of force.

In cases where doubt exist whether the victim presented a sufficient threat to justify deadly force the usual tactic is to slime the dead man. Here there is a video which shows a murder clearly enough to charge the officer. Notice how everyone is distancing themselves from Slager - tells you that racial profiling and sliming the victim won't do this time..
K Henderson (NYC)
M. it is relevant because both cop and victim are being variously "tried and convicted" in the press.

Of course the various authorities had to distance themselves from the cop because the video looks like he moved the taser to the body to implicate the victim. At that point, Slager was cooked and done.
Billy from Brooklyn (Hudson Valley NY)
You believe that shooting an unarmed man in the back should afterward be judged right or wrong depending on if the victim was current on his child support, or had registered his vehicle?

If what he did, including running back to get the taser and place it next to the dying man, is not wrong, then nothing a policeman does is wrong. Sorry, but you have an odd sense of fairness.

What happened to the CPR training he received before becoming a policeman? Guess he forget to apply it while showing such concern for a dying unarmed man. Slipped his mind.
TFreePress (New York)
The quick arrest and equally speedy distancing of the union and others has more to do with Mr. Slager getting caught red-handed than it does with condemning the murder of an unarmed man. The union and police force are both trying to attract as little scrutiny as possible to the operations of the department by quickly shunning Mr. Slager who they rightly believe is doomed to face charges regardless of their actions.

But there are signs that this was not the first time that either this police force or Mr. Slager has been involved in covering up police misconduct. First, Mr. Slager immediately jogged over to the dropped taser and then back to plant the taser next to Mr. Scott - there was no hesitation, no sign that he agonized over what to do next. Second, the presence of the second police officer did not deter Mr. Slager from planting evidence. Third, the second police officer, like Mr. Slager, did nothing to render aid to Mr. Scott - he showed no compassion or mercy. Fourth, both Mr. Slager and the second officer lied in their police reports about their actions at the scene, yet the second officer has neither been charged nor condemned by those shunning Mr. Slager.

Just as there are problems with policing in this country that go way beyond racial issues, there are clearly deeper issues with the North Charleston police force than Mr. Slager.
K Henderson (NYC)
"The second police officer, like Mr. Slager, did nothing to render aid to Mr. Scott - he showed no compassion or mercy"

I agree and that was one of the more disturbing parts of that video that gets little attention in the press. The 2nd cop is an accessory to much of the event.
Larry (London)
Those are excellent points -- especially the comments about the 2nd officer. I hope someone raises that question at a press conference.
Graham K. (San Jose, CA)
The speedy dismissal, the union distancing itself, and the murder charge actually have more to do with the fact that these incidents are now old hat, and the greater Charleston area is about to enter the tourism short season and is in the midst of the gentrification long season.

We live in a society where two trials now take place for every one of these incidents. The media trial comes first, and in cases like these the standard of evidence is low and the cop is always guilty until proven innocent, and is usually deemed guilty even after the courts find them innocent.

The second trial occurs in a court of law, where silly narratives and trial by social media commentary don't hold as much weight.

By now, public officials have learned an important lesson. It's better to just go with the flow during the first trial. Don't fight the narrative. It only prolongs the strife. And despite some of North Charleston's hard scrabble neighborhoods, if the mayor and board and the PD can get through this incident without having another Ferguson, they know as well as everyone else that they can be the next Mt. Pleasant if they let the gentrification proceed apace. Getting this event behind them as quickly as possible is key to that.
Citizen (RI)
Slager ought to be scared to death. All cops should be scared to death to murder unarmed, fleeing citizens. At some point the citizens are going to fight back, after they've had enough.

What are police departments all over the United States doing to make sure their Officer Slagers are not going to gun down unarmed citizens?

Citizens in communities that have cops who do this should be beating down the doors of the offices of their mayor, governor, attorney general, FBI, senator, or whoever it takes to let them know they're no longer going to stand for being killed like sheep by the very people sworn to protect them.
K Henderson (NYC)
A violent revolution with weapons out is not something you would want if it actually happened. Read the history books of any revolution in the 20th century.
michjas (Phoenix)
You didn't understand the article at all. Slager showed no signs of being out of control. He appears to be pretty much a regular guy and the police force had no advance notice something like this might happen.
Jack (NY)
What they are doing is teaching other cops how important it is to protect themselves and how the department and unions will back them up no matter what. They are also teaching them to be agents of corrupt organization, what it means to be blue brothers and how to cook books, plant evidence and help convict as many as possible, as fast as possible.
Anetliner Netliner (Washington, DC area)
The killing of Walter Scott is a tragedy for all touched by it. But the video portrays Officer Slager gunning down a fleeing man and appears to portray him attempting to plant evidence on or near Mr. Scott's body. This is despicable behavior by a police officer.
michjas (Phoenix)
Suppose you saw a video of a woman shooting her boyfriend after a struggle that was not shown. Don't you think you'd like to see what happened during the struggle before deciding that the woman was guilty of murder?
Justice Holmes (Charleston)
Mr. Slager is despicable but it is important to note that the second officer on the scene was black and he did nothing. He also did not report the coverup.
DR (New England)
michjas - Seriously? If you were that woman you would be locked up for a very long time and in some states might face the death penalty.

Shooting a fleeing person in the back is murder, end of story. That you can't see that is very frightening.
Bill Appledorf (British Columbia)
"They took a clean-cut kid
and made a killer out of him/
That's what they did . . ."
-- Bob Dylan

Story of the USA. It isn't Slagger's mother or father, and it isn't Slagerr's past. It's the institution of policing in the USA. This shooting is what it means to be an instrument of state violence in a racist, authoritarian country owned and run by a criminal class that hires and trains ordinary people to be killers.
Matt (NYC)
Thanks British Columbia, we love you too. We (countries, I mean) all have problems to sort out, but does your little rant really add anything meaningful? I may be black and know the problems between police and citizens, but I can think of plenty TRULY authoritarian countries where news like this wouldn't even be reported because its too commonplace. Anger is appropriate, in this case, but you clearly have a very deep and personal hatred of the U.S. that I (again, being a black man who has lived here his entire life) simply do not share. Please try to control yourself.
Loeil Alice (France)
Yes, and there need to be higher standards for policemen, who should have self restraint as a main quality, be cool headed and tough. A tall order? maybe, but the societal consequences otherwise are enormous, as we are seeing. Perhaps, one day, citizens will gain respect again for those hired to protect EVERYONE - instead of easy, ready abuse.
Dave Deacon (OH)
BILL: Yes & Amen! Very succinct. "Protect & Serve" is laughed at in every police station house in this country.
swm (providence)
No amount of sentimentality changes that he gunned down a fleeing man and then tried to frame him as a greater danger than he was. A jury may disagree, may be very sparing, but the police community simply can't shrug this off.

Mr. Slager may be terrified, but no more so than millions of mothers and fathers, families, and friends across this country who live in fear of what the police might do next.
Gail Terry (Miami)
michjas (Phoenix)
Having been shot in the back -- as logistics would have proven - Scott could not have been pointing the taser at Slager. Faced away from Slager, Scott's possession of the taser would have been irrelevant. So if Slager moved the taser, it was pointless.
Wallyman6 (NJ)
Nope, law enforcement cannot shrug this off. But my bet is that law enforcement will harden, play victim and act like cops everywhere are getting the shaft, that no one appreciates how they put their life on the line every day, yada yada yada.

I'm not buying their song anymore. Haven't for years now. My reference point for uniformed cops at street level is they are working slobs who hate their jobs and are counting the day until they get they pension. They wear that attitude on their sleeves. They see everyone in out public as a problem, nuisances they have to deal with. I arrived at that intractable belief after seeing how they interact with people not in real crisis situations, but minor ones. (And why do marked patrol cars in some NJ towns have tinted windows all around? That's wrong.)

I watched a municipal cop shove three traffic tickets in the face of an elderly woman with hearing aids in both ears, standing alongside a really busy road where she had caused an accident in which the only injuries were the bruises to her arms and face from her car's airbag deploying. "What's that," she asked, still shaking and disoriented, and probably smarting from the bruises. "Summons. You caused an accident," the cop said, with an unmistakable contemptuous tone; then he walked away to go talk to other cops on the scene. I wanted to vomit upon seeing that. It was callous and inappropriate, unprofessional, regardless of whether she deserved a traffic ticket.
Robert Riversong (Vermont)
The problem is that most people who want to be a cop are precisely the kinds of people who should not have that authority over others.
techangelist (Dallas)
True... and it would seem the police training academy almost reinforces and encourages their predisposition.
Simon_Bolivar (San Francisco)
"The problem is that most people who want to be a cop are precisely the kinds of people who should not have that authority over others."

That is SO true!!
inframan (pacific nw)
The kind of people who should not have authority over others are ones who rush to judgment with broad generalizations on the motivations of others based on their own personal prejudices.
See also