RECORD POLICE- IF THEY’VE DONE NOTHING WRONG THEY HAVE NOTHING TO HIDE
Posted By: Edmund R, Folsom, Esq.
Date: April 12, 2015
DISCLAIMER: The following is not legal advice. It is not intended as legal advice and should not be taken as legal advice. I offer it to potentially aid understanding only.
Walter Scott is shot repeatedly in the back by Charleston, South Carolina, Police Officer Michael Slager, and the predominant headline is a variation on “Unarmed black man shot by white cop.” Are we to believe that if Scott had been white Slager wouldn’t have shot him? I’m not buying it. I think Slager lost it over the affront to his authority that Walter Scott represented, and that he’d have had the same reaction no matter the race of the person who committed the sin of insubordination. Slager was a bad cop. You give a man the power of government, a badge and a gun, and you’d better be damned sure to watch that man. Trust but verify, and keep the choke chain tight. We give police officers a lot of power, and frankly we don’t watch them closely enough. Does anyone think if there hadn’t been a video camera trained on Micheal Slager when he shot Walter Scott to death, that what actually happened there would have been Slager’s official version? If not, then why on earth would you trust the official version that emerges from bad-outcome, police/citizen encounters all those other times when the camera isn’t on? Cameras are cheap, ubiquitous, and relatively glitch-free. If an officer is required to use extreme or deadly force, there’s no better way to document the reason why than to capture it on video. Police should be made to wear and use body cameras to record all of their search and seizure activities and their interactions with suspects, and they should be required to make dash camera recordings of all of their traffic stops. When the video is missing, there should be a presumption of disbelief, rebuttable only by clear and convincing evidence of a technical problem that makes the video unavailable. After all, how frequently do you suppose a technical problem arises that makes video unavailable when the facts on the ground are helpful to the officer, versus when those facts belie the “official” version. It’s high time to weed the garden, and video recording is a great place to start. For those who balk, maybe the best response is the one investigators commonly pose to their suspects: If you haven’t done anything wrong, then what have you got to hide?