Experiences With South Carolina Law

Apr 15, 2015

By Herb Silverman

When South Carolina leads a national story, it’s usually because of a horrible hurricane or racial incident. There hasn’t been a major hurricane lately in my hometown of Charleston, but North Charleston recently became the focus of national and international attention when a white police officer named Michael Slager shot an unarmed black man, Walter Scott, five times in the back as he fled after being stopped for a broken taillight.

Since police investigations in South Carolina and many other states almost always exonerate the officer in a questionable situation, it was almost unprecedented for Slager to be arrested and charged with murder shortly after the shooting. However, because of the now-famous video taken by a passerby, I don’t credit South Carolina law enforcement for their prompt action. The video appears to show Slager taking target practice on a black man’s back, turning the “smoking gun” cliché into something literal. Were it not for the video, an internal police investigation might have exonerated Slager because he initially claimed to fear for his life during a struggle with Scott.

More typical is the incident with Mario Givens, another black man in North Charleston, who accused Slager of excessive force in 2013. Givens was awakened during the night by a loud knock on his door. Slager pushed open the door and saw Givens clad in a T-shirt and boxer shorts. Givens raised his hands above his head, but Slager tased him anyway, dragged him out of the house, threw him on the ground, handcuffed him, and put him in a squad car. Givens was accused of resisting arrest, but eventually released without charge because the arrest turned out to be one of mistaken identity.

Mario Givens later filed a complaint, and the department opened an internal investigation. Several witnesses confirmed Givens’ story to the police, but they were never contacted. When Givens went to the station six weeks later to inquire about his complaint, he learned that a senior officer had investigated the case for a couple of weeks and that Slager had been “exonerated.” Slager consistently earned positive reviews in his five years with the North Charleston Police.


Read the full article by clicking the name of the source located below.

10 comments on “Experiences With South Carolina Law

  • Guns are technology for executing people. Police are supposed to arrest people, not kill them, except in exceptional circumstances, and even then it is SWAT teams not police who do it.

    We need new technology that disables suspects without killing or permanently injuring them. Ideally it should not be that painful because police are tempted to dispense personal justice (usually for failing to show sufficient deference.)

    If such technology becomes available, many police whose joy in life is hurting others, will resign. I new gentler crew will take over.



    Report abuse

  • 2
    NearlyNakedApe says:

    What we need is not better technology but better training and psychological screening of individuals at police academies. Although one technology that is being discussed presently is cameras worn by police officers at all times. The rule would be that a police officer is not allowed to remove it or turn it off and the recording would have to be uploaded in real time to some kind of black box in the car to prevent officers from tampering with the evidence. I truly believe this could be a powerful deterrent for police brutality.

    Another thing that is direly needed is better accountability and the uniform application of the law. Not this double-standard that we’ve been witnessing for years. Even here in Montreal, people are beginning to fear and resent the cops and that’s bad news for everybody.

    I tip my hat to the person who made the video of Michael Slager. That person was probably risking his/her life since there was nothing preventing this arsehole from shooting him/her and grabbing that phone if he had been aware someone was filming him.

    Here in QC, if cops see you filming them while they’re roughing somebody up, they just confiscate your phone, end of story. The right to film a public official in the exercise of his functions must be garanteed by law. Cops who violate this right must be sanctioned with the full force of the law otherwise both Canada and the US are simply sleepwalking toward a police state.



    Report abuse

  • better training and psychological screening of individuals at police academies.

    The recruitment standards for Police in the US are pretty low. Above shopping trolley collectors but below white collar workers. The salaries reflect the recruitment standards. In Australia, to join the Australian Federal Police requires a University Degree. The basic training that takes two years earns you a further degree in criminology. The pay scales reflect that. While not quite to that level for the various State police forces in Australia, they now recruit people with life experience, not direct from High School. Their studies amount to a Diploma level, and can be advanced to a recognized degree to go into Detective work. The psyche training is rigorous and ongoing. The professional standards required are extremely high. A commissioner only needs to “Loose Confidence” in an officer to have him dismissed. A very low threshold. Very little corruption.

    From my occasional watching of the doyen of high integrity reality shows, Cops, I cringe at the attitudes and police practice witnessed. Most would be sacked in Australia. American seems to be getting the police officers they pay for.

    America also needs to change it’s policing structure. One state. One police force. No borders or counties. No “Elected” officials. Independence from politics. One national law enforcement agency. FBI. One national police computer system. One national radio network. One universal criminal code. No elected Attorney General. Adopt the Director of Public Prosecutions model from the UK. Judges selected from senior high integrity criminal bar members. (no Saul’s) No politician involved in the selection of judges. Depoliticize. Legal aid to support America’s numerous third world citizens. (These reforms will save so much money you might even pay off your deficit.)

    End the war on drugs. It’s a medical issue. Go after organized crime, the source, not the user. Introduce gun control. Police, farmers, and actively participating shooting club members only. You possess a gun without cause. You commit an automatic crime. That is the law in Australia.

    Oh, and pay a professional wage to police and only recruit professional people to serve in law enforcement. Recruit enough police that they never have to work solo. Two police massively reduces corrupt practice. Camera’s everywhere. Tape all interviews. on and on…



    Report abuse

  • I live in Columbia, SC. This is the second officer shooting within the past year that shouldn’t have happened. The other was a man shot while getting his wallet as the officer requested and he was lucky not to have been killed. I really think in cases where the police kill someone, the officer needs to be placed into custody (paid) while an outside police force (or even have the FBI, since there really shouldn’t be very many officer caused deaths) handles the investigation. Body cameras should be mandatory and any officer that has repeated camera failures should simply be terminated. Get rid of military vehicles… our local cops have mine resistant transports… for what. Get rid of the automatic weapons. Pay more and train better… cops and prison personnel are paid poorly down here.
    It’s embarrassing that I even have to argue with people that just running from the cops is not reason enough to be killed (with people here and back home, up north, since I moved here over ten years ago). The other sad aspect, is that more than one officer filed a report that didn’t match what happened.



    Report abuse

  • The other was a man shot while getting his wallet as the officer requested..

    This is the collateral damage from idiotic US gun laws. Every man and his dog has a gun. So a police officer, when needing to deal with a member of the public, has no idea if this person is armed. Every time a police officer talks to someone, it could be lethal for him / her because of the irrationality of the American gun culture.

    A routine traffic stop. A bonafides check. A door knock. A night search.

    The police are trained and trained to take no chances. The 2013 stats from America for police being killed in the line of duty are an embarrassment.

    The 27 felonious deaths occurred in 16 states. The number of officers killed as a result of criminal acts in 2013 decreased by 22 when compared with the 49 officers who were feloniously killed in 2012. The five- and 10-year comparisons show a decrease of 21 felonious deaths compared with the 2009 figure (48 officers) and a decrease of 30 deaths compared with 2004 data (57 officers).

    AND

    Circumstances: Of the 27 officers feloniously killed, six were killed in arrest situations, five were investigating suspicious persons or circumstances, five were ambushed, four were involved in tactical situations, four were answering disturbance calls, and two were conducting traffic pursuits/stops. One was conducting an investigative activity, such as surveillance, a search, or an interview.

    AND

    Weapons: Offenders used firearms to kill 26 of the 27 victim officers. Of these 26 officers, 18 were slain with handguns, five with rifles, and three with shotguns. One officer was killed with a vehicle used as a weapon.

    So a guy reaching for his wallet….. what else could he be reaching for. Tough gig being a street cop in America. Walk a mile in his shoes…. What’s the cop thinking. “This guy is going for a gun.” Training. Respond with lethal force. If you wait to make sure he actually produces a gun, you will be dead, because you won’t be able to draw your weapon quick enough.

    I posted above what needs to be done in America.



    Report abuse

  • 6
    Miserablegit says:

    If you have laws which allow such freedom of gun use and at the same time have a police force that holds blacks in such contempt such incidents are always inevitable.



    Report abuse

  • in the meantime however, mobile phones and the internet have given us the technology to make an american policeman think twice in future

    pain-free non-lethal methods of disabling would be great. I imagine the police would absolutlely hate the prospect of them never having an excuse for hurting someone they didn’t like the look of though.



    Report abuse

  • Curious about variables and stats for female officers, inc. the subject at hand (excessive force / cover ups / biases).

    *sad, unfortunate collateral damage of the cited policemen – (unborn) children and their mothers.



    Report abuse

  • ” America also needs to change it’s policing structure. One state. One police force. No borders or counties. No “Elected” officials. Independence from politics. One national law enforcement agency. FBI. One national police computer system. One national radio network. One universal criminal code. No elected Attorney General. Adopt the Director of Public Prosecutions model from the UK. Judges selected from senior high integrity criminal bar members. (no Saul’s) No politician involved in the selection of judges. Depoliticize. Legal aid to support America’s numerous third world citizens. (These reforms will save so much money you might even pay off your deficit.) ”

    Are you being facetious? Or are you just that naive?

    I don’t think our system will accept such a radical change. This is the United STATES Of America.



    Report abuse

  • I see the US psychotic fixation on guns has gone a step further!

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-us-canada-40353408

    Teachers are being trained to carry guns in classrooms in Colorado in order to protect children as part of a scheme motivated by a school massacre in 2012.

    The three-day course, which consists of firearms and medical training, was launched on Tuesday in Weld County.

    Seventeen members of staff who “would like to be considered armed first responders” have so far taken part.

    The pilot programme will allow volunteers to enter schools with guns under US “concealed carry” laws.

    Teachers were taken to a shooting range in Weld County, near Denver, where they were tested on their abilities with weapons.

    The course, provided by the Faculty Administrator Safety Training and Emergency Response group (Faster), was set up by parents, law enforcement officers and medical experts who believe that US schools are a “soft target” for violence. The group refers to schools as “victim zones”.

    Faster’s aim, it says, is not to replace police or security services, but to “allow teachers, administrators, and other personnel to stop school violence rapidly” and to “administer medical aid where necessary”.

    The group was set up following the Sandy Hook shooting massacre in December 2012, in which a rifle-wielding man killed 26 people, mostly young children, at a Connecticut primary school.

    Mmmmm! Three days to master the safe use of firearms in a crowded classroom AND medical training to deal with gunshot wounds!

    I seem to recall spending more time than that on life-guard first aid, when I was on a course to teach swimming!



    Report abuse

Leave a Reply

View our comment policy.