For those rallying under the banners of “Black Lives Matter” and “I Can’t Breathe” continue to go resuscitated. Yet again, this time in South Carolina, an American police officer has killed an unarmed Black man, shooting him the back. Former North Charleston cop, Michael Thomas Slager shot military vet Walter Scott in the back after a routine traffic stop. Slager claims to have been in fear for his life, saying that Scott grabbed for his taser, but video of the encounter (captured on the cell phone of a very brave onlooker) showing Slager firing multiple shots at a fleeing Scott have led to the former officer being charged with murder.
The slaying of Walter Scott has forced the North Charleston police to look into a previous incident in which Slager apparently used excessive force. In 2013, due to a case of mistaken identity, he woke Mario Givens (a Black man) up at the man’s home before dawn by banging loudly on his door and yelling, “Come out or I’ll tase you.” Givens came out and raised his hands in the air when Slager tased him in the stomach.
“He looked nothing like the description I gave the officers,” Brown said. “He asked the officer why he was at the house. He did it nicely. The police officer said he wanted him to step outside. Then he asked, ‘Why, why do you want me to step outside?’ Then the officer barged inside and grabbed him.”
Moments later, she saw the officers drag Mario Givens out of the house and throw him in the dirt. Brown said she kept yelling to the officers that they had the wrong man, but they wouldn’t listen to her. She said Slager used the stun gun on Givens again, even though he was offering no resistance.
“He was screaming, in pain,” she said. “He said, ‘You tased me. You tased me. Why?’ It was awful. Terrible. I asked the officer why he tased him and he told me to get back.”
“He was cocky,” she said of Slager. “It looked like he wanted to hurt him. There was no need to tase him. No reason. He was no threat – and we told him he had the wrong man.”
Like so many other cops, Slager claimed that Givens was being non-compliant, so he was exonerated of any wrongdoing. However, in light of the shooting, the top brass in North Charleston will probe into the matter further. After being fired from the department and charged, Slager is in jail. He was denied bail. Compared to the other cases of police killing unarmed Black men, Slager’s arrest could be seen as a win. In the grander scheme of things, North Charleston Mayor Keith Summey has ordered that all police there wear body cameras in wake of the shooting of Walter Scott.
For more from writer Ryan Smith, click here.