Police Officer Faces Murder Charge for Shooting Unarmed Man in the Back

Originally published on April 9, 2015, at NationofChange.org

A South Carolina police officer was arrested on Tuesday and charged with murder after shooting an unarmed man in the back. Law enforcement officials arrested North Charleston Patrolman Michael Slager after a video surfaced recorded by a bystander who witnessed the incident. On the same day, another South Carolina officer was arrested on a felony weapons charge resulting in the death of another unarmed man.

At 9:33 a.m. on Saturday, Patrolman Slager noticed 50-year-old Walter “Lamar” Scott driving with a broken brake light. Some time after Slager pulled him over, Scott exited his car and fled on foot. Slager chased after him and reportedly fired his Taser at Scott in an attempt to subdue him.

According to Slager, Scott turned around to confront the officer and managed to take Slager’s Taser from his hands. Slager claims that he felt threatened, pulled out his gun, and fired several rounds at Scott. But video of the shooting appears to contradict the officer’s account.

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16 Unarmed Black People Killed by Police this Year

Originally published on December 13, 2014, at NationofChange.org

At least 16 unarmed black people have been killed by police officers this year including a woman and two children. According to law enforcement officials, these people lost their lives in instances of poor police training, miscommunication, justified tactics, and excessive brutality. Although the majority of unarmed individuals killed by police this year have been black, officers have also been killing unarmed people of other races.

On January 16, Jordan Baker was allegedly killed in a case of mistaken identity. Working off-duty as a mall security guard, Houston PD Officer Juventino Castro confronted Baker because he fit the description of some robbery suspects who had recently held up three stores while wearing black hoodies. Castro claims Baker charged at him, forcing the off-duty officer to shoot Baker to death. A grand jury is deciding whether to charge Castro with killing Baker.

In August, North Augusta Public Safety Officer Justin Craven was charged with misconduct in office for gunning down a 68-year-old unarmed man named Ernest Satterwhite. After a slow-speed chase that ended in Satterwhite’s driveway on February 9, Officer Craven ran up to Satterwhite’s car door and shot him to death. The prosecution sought to charge Craven with voluntary manslaughter, but the grand jury indicted him on a misdemeanor instead. Satterwhite’s family has filed a lawsuit alleging Craven had disobeyed orders and lied about Satterwhite trying to grab his gun.

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Police Chief Charged with Murdering Unarmed Black Man

Originally published on December 7, 2014, at NationofChange.org

A grand jury in South Carolina charged a former police chief with murder this week for gunning down an unarmed black man in a town hall parking lot. The decision was announced a day after another grand jury declined to indict the NYPD officer responsible for killing Eric Garner with a chokehold. The former police chief has become the third officer in South Carolina indicted for shooting unarmed black men in recent months.

On May 2, 2011, Bernard Bailey arrived at Eutawville’s Town Hall to contest a ticket issued to his daughter for a broken taillight. Six weeks earlier, Police Chief Richard Combs had pulled over Bailey’s daughter who called her father to the scene. After arguing with Bailey and issuing the ticket to his daughter, Chief Combs obtained a warrant against Bailey for obstruction of justice.

When Bailey appeared at the Town Hall weeks later, Combs began arguing with Bailey again and attempted to arrest him. Without threatening or attacking the police chief, Bailey exited the building towards his truck. As Combs followed him into the parking lot, Bailey entered his vehicle and turned the ignition.

Before Bailey could close his door, Combs reached inside the truck attempting to shut off the engine. According to Combs, he became entangled in the truck’s steering wheel while trying to turn off the ignition. As the truck backed out of the parking space, Combs fell to the ground and pulled out his gun shooting Bailey twice in the chest and once in the shoulder.

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