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Slager, Brailsford Police Shootings Unjustified

Slager, Brailsford Police Shootings Unjustified
In this Monday, Dec. 5, 2016, file photo, Michael Slager, at right, walks from the Charleston County Courthouse under the protection from the Charleston County Sheriff's Department after a mistrial was declared for his trial in Charleston, S.C. (AP Photo/Mic Smith, File)

By Thursday, 14 December 2017 12:31 PM Current | Bio | Archive

On April 4, 2015, North Charleston, white Police Officer Michael Slager shot Walter Scott as he ran away from Slager, after a car stop. Scott was black, unarmed, and shot multiple times in the back, killing him. However, in the state's trial against Slager, the jury was deadlocked, and a mistrial was declared. Subsequently, Slager was sentenced to 20 years in federal prison for civil rights violations.

On January 18, 2016, white Police Officer Philip Brailsford of the Mesa Arizona Police Department shot and killed Daniel Shaver, an unarmed white male. Unfortunately, Brailsford was found not guilty, and I’m hopeful that he will be brought up on civil rights violations as Slager was.

Both of these shootings are similar in that both of the victims were unarmed and video proves that the actions of the officers were not justified. Two men died as a result of incompetence, lack of training, and possibly both were unfit psychologically for the job. Both of these videos upset me — I was so angered by the actions of these officers I almost couldn’t contain myself, even as I was on CNN analyzing the Slager shooting I called it murder.

I have 25 years' experience working the streets of New York City during the worst time in history — this was the late 80’s through the 90’s.

As I look back on those years, I could have probably shot at least eight people lawfully who were armed/unarmed and dangerous. In one instance, in June 1983, I witnessed a black male shoot another on the street several times in Harlem at the corner of W 125st and Amsterdam Ave. I was alone in a radio car, and as I radioed for an ambulance, I chased the perp with a gun in his hand as he ran down the middle of the street. He tried to run into a building on Convent Ave but the front door was locked, I now had him cornered and with my weapon drawn took cover and yelled to him to drop his gun which was still in his right hand. At this moment, legally I could have shot him, but I didn’t, without moving his hand he looked at me, and he dropped his weapon, and I ran up and cuffed him.

I tell you this story not to brag but to show you that in this instance I felt that I gave him an extra second to surrender. Had he turned toward me after my command I would have shot him. He was armed and shot someone in my presence but waiting for that extra half a second was my choice and I was alone. The last thing I wanted to do was shoot this guy.

Every incident a police officer faces is different, no two are the same, and my event cannot be compared to others, and other officers might have acted differently than I did.

After I graduated from the NYPD academy, my class was fortunate enough to be trained by officers with 20 years’ experience or more on the street. Today, cops are being trained by other rookies with not much more time on the job as the ones that are training them. Police departments today are reluctant to retain officers with vast amounts of experience because they believe they have bad habits that they do not want to be injected into rookie officers. However, that is probably the biggest mistake departments make, and we see the results as we have with these two shootings I mentioned.

Harry Houck is a CNN law enforcement analyst, retired NYPD Detective First Grade, and USMC veteran. Follow him on Twitter, @HarryJHouck, or Facebook. To read more of his reports — Click Here Now.

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HarryHouck
On April 4, 2015, North Charleston, white Police Officer Michael Slager shot Walter Scott as he ran away from Slager, after a car stop.
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