There have been several high-profile incidents in recent memory involving a white police officer killing an unarmed African-American civilian. And as debates have unfolded and the national conversation has progressed, there are skeptics, often on the right, who offer a "Yes, but" response to the tragedies.
Those concerned with possible police abuses point to the Eric Garner case, prompting skeptics to argue, "Yes, but he resisted arrest." In the Michael Brown case, they argue, "Yes, but there was an altercation between the victim and the officer." In the Tamir Rice case, they argue, "Yes, but the 911 call gave the officer the wrong impression."
Late yesterday afternoon, the New York Times reported on a deadly shooting in South Carolina, and in light of the video captured by a witness, there is no "Yes, but" crowd.
A white police officer in North Charleston, S.C., was charged with murder on Tuesday after a video surfaced showing him shooting in the back and killing an apparently unarmed black man while the man ran away.
The officer, Michael T. Slager, 33, said he had feared for his life because the man had taken his stun gun in a scuffle after a traffic stop on Saturday. A video, however, shows the officer firing eight times as the man, Walter L. Scott, 50, fled. The North Charleston mayor announced the state charges at a news conference Tuesday evening.
According to the information currently available, Slager pulled Scott over on Saturday morning over a broken taillight. We can't say with confidence exactly what happened after the cars pulled over, but the video shows Scott running away from the officer, who fired shots at the victim's back.
Slager's attorney told local media this week that the victim had tried to take the officer's Taser. Slager, his attorney said, felt threatened and followed all proper procedures during the deadly incident.
The emergence of a video from a bystander, however, introduced the other side of the story.