In North Charleston, South Carolina, another story of a fatal police shooting emerged April 4. If we hadn’t heard enough of these stories, this one crosses a line unimaginable. One could assume that the chosen emotion after a shooting would be one of sadness or guilt, but the officer involved in the latest of the police shootings presents a chilling emotion. Police Officer Michael Slager shot Walter Scott after pulling him over for a broken taillight. This incident was recorded on video and, according to The New York Times, as a result of the event, the officer has been fired. However, this is not the officer’s first abuse of power. It was reported that in August, the officer stunned a man, Julius G. Wilson, with his Taser. Although this seems relatively minor compared to the murder charge he is currently facing, it does raise some red flags for previous misdemeanors. In light of the recent Department of Justice report on Ferguson, Missouri, it would appear as though more than one police force needs investigation.
The New York Times also reported that Wilson, the Taser victim, has filed a civil lawsuit against the police department in North Charleston. This can bring rise to many other lawsuits. While the tensions between police forces and civilians increase, it brings up the question of whether other cities will also soon be facing lawsuits. Will this instance cause a domino effect? The answer appears to be unclear, but one thing that does seem certain is the fact that these numerous accounts of police discharging their weapons prior to the Walter Scott shooting appear to have no effect on police conduct. According to The Guardian, a video taken from the incident reveals some chilling insight as to how the officer reacted post-shooting. Slager reportedly laughed due to the rush of adrenaline. However, many are skeptical as to whether or not adrenaline can excuse the inappropriate emotion for the situation.
If anything is to be to taken away from these repeated instances that are flooding our news outlets, it’s that something needs to happen. That is purposefully vague because at this point something is better than nothing. An article in The U.S. News and World Report suggests that body cameras on officers can restrict the use of excessive force. Body cameras can deter not only the officers from the temptation to use their weapons but also the civilian from potentially turning violent in the first place. Our society is developing greatly with its usage of technology, and it may be time for us to implement some of those technologies into our police force. This isn’t the definitive answer for what should be done, but it does take into account both sides of the situations that arise in such horrific outcomes. It will take a while for anything to happen, but the sooner we start brainstorming ideas for what can alleviate the tensions currently intensifying in our country, the better.