NORTH CHARLESTON, S.C. (Associated Press) — Questions persist about the shooting death of a black South Carolina motorist after the release of dashboard video of a traffic stop that led to a white officer being charged with murder.
The dash cam footage released by state police on Thursday showed North Charleston Officer Michael Thomas Slager pulling over motorist Walter Scott for a broken brake light last weekend.
Saturday’s traffic stop opens routinely as Scott is stopped in a used Mercedes-Benz he had bought days earlier, footage from the patrol car showed. The white officer is seen walking toward the driver’s window, requesting Scott’s license and registration. Slager then returns to his cruiser.
The video also shows Scott beginning to get out of the car, his right hand raised above his head. He then quickly gets back into the car and closes the door. After Slager goes back to his patrol car, minutes later, Scott jumps from his car and runs. Slager chases him.
What’s missing is what happens from the time the two men run out of the frame of dashboard video to the time picked up in a bystander’s cellphone video a few hundred yards away. The cellphone footage starts with Scott getting to his feet and running away, then Slager firing eight shots at the man’s back.
The dashboard camera is in stark contrast to the cellphone footage of the later moments of the encounter. On the dash cam video, Slager never touches his gun during the stop. He also makes no unreasonable demands or threats.
“It is possible for something to happen in that gap to significantly raise the officer’s perception of risk,” Seth Stoughton, a former police officer and criminal law professor at the University of South Carolina.
Police and Slager’s first lawyer initially said the officer fired in self-defense during a scuffle over his department-issued Taser. Within days of Saturday’s encounter, the eyewitness video surfaced and immediately changed perceptions of what had happened, leading authorities to charge Slager with murder and fire him from the police force he’d worked on for five years.
There is almost nothing in Slager’s police personnel file to suggest that his superiors considered him a rogue officer capable of murdering a man during a traffic stop. In the community he served, however, people say this reflects what’s wrong with policing today: Officers nearly always get the last word when citizens complain.
“We’ve had through the years numerous similar complaints, and they all seem to be taken lightly and dismissed without any obvious investigation,” the Rev. Joseph Darby, vice president of the Charleston branch of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, said Thursday.
The mostly black neighborhood where the shooting took place is far from unique, said Melvin Tucker, a former FBI agent and police chief in four southern cities who often testifies in police misconduct cases.
Nationwide, training that pushes pre-emptive action, military experience that creates a warzone mindset, and legal system favoring police in misconduct cases all lead to scenarios where officers see the people they serve as enemies, he said.
“It’s not just training. It’s not just unreasonable fear. It’s not just the warrior mentality. It’s not just court decisions that almost encourage the use of it. It is not just race,” Tucker said. “It is all of that.”
As a steady crowd left flowers, stuffed animals, notes and protest signs in the empty lot where Scott was shot, many said police in South Carolina’s third-largest city routinely dismiss complaints of petty brutality and harassment, even when eyewitnesses can attest to police misbehavior. The result, they say, is that officers are regarded with a mixture of distrust and fear.
Both Slager, 33, and Scott, 55, were U.S. Coast Guard veterans. Slager had one complaint in his personnel file of excessive force that was ultimately dismissed. Scott had been jailed repeatedly for failing to pay child support. But neither man had a record of violence. Slager consistently earned positive reviews in his five years with the North Charleston Police.
Slager’s attorney, Andy Savage, said Thursday that he’s conducting his own investigation, and that it’s “far too early for us to be saying what we think.”
The officer is being held without bond pending an Aug. 21 hearing on a charge of murder that could put him in prison for 30 years to life if convicted.
Slager’s file includes a single excessive use-of-force complaint, from 2013: A man said Slager used his stun gun against him without reason. But Slager was exonerated and the case closed, even though witnesses told The Associated Press that investigators never followed up with them. Police say they are now looking at that case again amid questions by the man Tased and eyewitnesses who said authorities never questioned them about it.
“It’s almost impossible to get an agency to do an impartial internal affairs investigation. First of all the investigators doing it are co-workers of the person being investigated. Number two, there’s always the tendency on the part of the departments to believe the officers,” Tucker said.
Biesecker reported from Raleigh, North Carolina. Associated Press writer Mitch Weiss in North Charleston, South Carolina, and Jonathan Drew in Raleigh, contributed to this report.
“Ultimately the case will probably be settled out of court,” Lillie Collie, Satterthwaite’s legal guardian, told Radar.
The settlement concludes Satterthwaite’s grievance with Jay Z., who managed to avoid Satterthwaite’s four-year attempt to unsuccessfully obtain the entertainer’s DNA by giving the court his work address in Manhattan.
As for what he’ll do with the settlement, Radar notes that Satterthwaite will reportedly use the money to pay for medical bills, in addition to his mounting legal fees.
“Nobody wants this to drag out anymore,” Collie said.
Satterthwaite isn’t the first child Jay Z hasn’t acknowledged publicly. The 45-year-old rhymesayer has a 12-year-old son, Isa Jael, who lives with his mother in Trinidad. According to reports Jay Z purchased a mansion for the mother and pays her a monthly stipend to stay out of his and wife Beyoncé’s lives.
TMZ is reporting that Bobbi Kristina has indeed left Emory University hospital for a rehabilitation facility in Atlanta, however, her condition has not improved.
Bobbi Kristina was transferred to the new facility Thursday after doctors at Emory made one more attempt to slowly remove life support to see if she responds. She did not, the website reported, adding that doctors say she’s in the same non-responsive state she’s been in for weeks.
Bobby Brown and Pat Houston helped carry her belongings from the hospital to the new facility, which is reportedly better suited for long-term care.
Bobbi Kristina’s breathing tube was moved from her throat to her neck a few weeks ago in preparation for the support she will be getting in the new facility.
TMZ says “Bobby remains adamant and faithful his daughter can come out of the coma.”
People close to Angie Stone are telling TMZ that her daughter Diamond’s teeth fell out during their fight because they were already compromised.
Stone admitted to cops she hit Diamond with a metal jewelry stand in self-defense, knocking out her two front teeth in the process. But sources close to Angie tell TMZ the teeth fell out because they’d been rotting long before the fight.
Diamond admits to TMZ that her teeth were rotten but says, “It don’t matter if my teeth were rotten or not … I could have gotten a root canal, but she finished the job.”
Diamond also disputes her mother’s claim she was acting in self-defense, saying the fight started with both women yelling, and Angie grabbed the stand to threaten her. She claims it only got physical when she threatened to call cops, and Angie struck her in the face with the stand.
Diamond admits wrestling her mother to ground at that point, and says her brother had to break up the scrap. Only Angie was arrested and booked for aggravated assault.
Angie Stone’s daughter Diamond Stone is not staying quiet regarding the singer’s assault on her.In a post on her Facebook page, Diamond is speaking out regarding the incident as she vows to make her version of what happened known.
“People are so quick to pass judgment but never really know the full story,” Diamond wrote. “Never uphold people in wrong no matter who they are I’m crushed but I ain’t dead so for the people that praise “her” keep right on just know that it ain’t over. You so big and bad but had to use a weapon on me in a fight that you started. You giggled on the inside because you thought I was going to jail too.?#?Wrong? I’m sick of putting up these fronts and because you took shit to another level I will too. I love all my family but I cannot take anymore abuse so I’m separating myself from it all. I pray God heals us from this but from where I sit there is no turning back cause if you ain’t wit me you against me. You so worried about to media and the press but I promise you this I will not rest until my story is heard!”
In addition to her message, Diamond posted photos of the teeth that fell out of her mouth from the assault as well as the metal plank Angie Stone used to striker her. Media sources report the singer, who is charged with domestic aggravated assault after being arrested, is in jail following the altercation.
Phil McGraw is speaking out about his “Dr. Phil” episode with Nick Gordon, saying that Bobbi Kristina Brown’s boyfriend was “volatile” and emotionally distraught during the taping…and was clearly not sober.
“He said he had an enormous amount of guilt and pain” regarding Brown, McGraw recounted in an interview with the Associated Press Monday.
The 22-year old daughter of the late Whitney Houston and Bobby Brown is on life support in an Atlanta hospital after being found unresponsive Jan. 31 in a bathtub in her Georgia home.
McGraw said that Gordon entered a rehab facility immediately after the taping last week, which McGraw and the show described as an “intervention.” He said that Gordon was “clearly in an altered state of consciousness. I asked him if he was sober, and he said `No.’”
Gordon felt “it was his job to protect Krissy, as he calls her, and that he obviously had failed,” and he’s distressed over being banned from her bedside, McGraw said.
Gordon’s attorneys have said that Bobby Brown has consistently denied Gordon permission to visit her in the hospital. A lawyer for Brown said that Gordon was offered a potential opportunity if he agreed to certain conditions.
Gordon didn’t discuss what happened to Bobbi Kristina Brown and wasn’t asked about it for the episode airing Wednesday because it would have been inappropriate, McGraw said.
During the taping, Gordon veered between incoherence and sounding “normal,” McGraw said. At one point, he played a Whitney Houston song on his phone and started weeping.
Asked if the chaotic encounter for TV was helpful to Gordon, McGraw replied: “It got him safely tucked away and into rehab.”