THE CAPTAIN REPORTS:
HAVE YOU EVER WITNESSED A MURDER .....?
Police officers have, arguably, one of the most difficult jobs in our country. At the ripe young age of 18, they can apply for admission into one of many police academies. If they get through the physical and mental examinations and manage to learn something about the law, they can graduate with a diploma and earn the right to possibly get hired by a police department.
After they are employed, and given a period of probation, where a Field Training Officer (FTO) usually spends six months with them, they are then placed on the street to "protect and serve". They are issued a service revolver, a Taser, a badge, and presumably, enough understanding of the law, that they can enforce it - fairly and safely - to the public and to themselves.
In every profession, there are bad apples. There are bad lawyers, bad politicians, and there are, bad cops. The difference with the police officer is, that they are sometimes forced into making a split second decision, one that could mean the difference between life and death; and then that decision will be analyzed and scrutinized, second by second, and if there is video, that second can even be broken down into milliseconds, about their decision-making in a certain event.
Officer Michael Slager is a police officer employed by the North Charleston Police Department. He is 33 years old and he is white. And today, he was charged with the murder of 50 year old Walter Scott, a black man, who was driving his Mercedes Benz, with a broken tail light.
This is a BLOG run by a criminal defense lawyer and many of our readers are criminal defense lawyers. So, being a fellow criminal defense lawyer, we will presume Officer Slager innocent and wait until all of the facts are presented in a court of law. But, unfortunately for Officer Slager, and fortunately for Mr. Scott's family, and the rest of the citizens of North Charleston, an innocent bystander caught some of the encounter between Slager and Scott, on video.
Here are some of the facts: Scott had previously been arrested about ten times; mostly for failing to pay child support. His most serious arrests include an assault and battery in 1987 and a 1991 conviction for possession of a bludgeon. Scott's brother surmised that, Scott likely had an outstanding warrant for back child support and didn't want to be taken into custody. Thus, he ran from the traffic stop.
Slager was previously in the US Coast Guard for five years before joining the police force. He fired his weapon eight times, striking Scott five times; three times in the back, once in the buttocks, and once in the ear. One of the shots entered Scott's heart.
You can read the entire New York Times story here.
The video of the alleged murder is disturbing and today, the lawyer for Scott's family released it to the New York Times. Here it is below. Did the officer shoot because he was in fear for his life? (The Supreme Court has held that an officer may use deadly force against a fleeing suspect only when there is probable cause that he “poses a significant threat of death or serious physical injury to the officer or others.”). Was the color of Scott's skin a factor in how and why all of this got started? Scott was driving a Mercedes Benz. This was all over a tail light being broken. How does that kind of traffic stop escalate into an officer shooting at someone, running away from the officer, eight times, striking him five times, and killing him?
So, now it's your turn to weigh in on this. Have at it.
JUDICIAL ELECTIONS 2016 - UPDATE .......
Today, newly appointed Circuit Court Judge Jason Bloch woke up to reality. After Judge Darrin Gayles ascended to the Federal bench last year, Governor Scott appointed Bloch to replace Gayles in November of 2014. Enter Marcia Del Rey. Ms. Del Rey has been a member of The Florida Bar for nine years. She has a family law practice. If you Google her, you may recall seeing her rather large billboard promoting her law office. If you Google her, you also may not hire her. From reading many of the comments posted from Avvo, or Yahoo, or City Search, etc., it appears Ms. Del Rey has made a few enemies of her former clients.
CAPTAIN OUT .......