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Bernie Kerik: 'Rough Time Ahead' for Videotaped Cop in SC Shooting

By    |   Thursday, 09 April 2015 06:29 PM

Life is only going to get more difficult for a South Carolina police officer charged with murder in a shooting caught on video now that he is a target of the criminal justice system he once worked for, says a former giant of law enforcement, Bernard Kerik.

Especially if the now-fired officer, North Charleston Patrolman Michael Slager, is convicted and imprisoned, "he's going to have a rough time ahead of him," Kerik told "MidPoint" host Ed Berliner on Newsmax TV Thursday.

Story continues below video.

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Former New York City Police Commissioner Kerik spent three-plus years behind bars for felony tax and false statement charges. He was released from a minimum security prison in 2013.

He is the author of a best-selling new memoir, "From Jailer to Jailed: My Journey From Correction and Police Commissioner to Inmate #84888-054," and of late, an advocate of criminal justice reforms that he discusses in the book.

Kerik said that because Slager, 33, was a cop who helped put other people away, he would be a target for reprisals on the inside and therefore, in the event of a prison sentence, "he'll be placed in a population where he can be maintained safely.

"The state has a duty to keep him safe," said Kerik, "but he's going to have his time cut out for him."

Kerik also said that nothing in the bystander video of Slager, 33, shooting a man in the back explains or excuses the decision to fire eight rounds at the fleeing and apparently unarmed victim, Walter Scott, 50, after a traffic stop for a broken tail light.

"I don't care how pro-cop you are — nothing justified that shooting," he said. "I sent that video to other cops I knew, and I had a number of them send me back a message and say, 'Is that for real?' They thought somebody posted it online and it was some kind of joke."

Slager has reportedly told investigators he feared for his life during a struggle with Scott for the officer's Taser. The video appears to show a brief scuffle with an object — possibly the Taser — hitting the ground, and Scott running away before he is brought down by gunfire.

Scott's family has said that he tried to run, probably out of fear that a warrant for unpaid child support would turn up during the stop, and that he would be arrested and jailed.

More potentially damning for Slager, he is seen afterward running back to the site of the initial scuffle, picking up the fallen object and apparently dropping it on the ground near Scott's body.

Kerik called the video "troubling" and "disturbing."

"This stuff will all come out in court, naturally," he said, "but based on the video and what I saw, the justification for deadly physical force did not exist, and the officer should not have taken those shots and fired his weapon."

Asked if he thought the video also foiled a cover-up, Kerik said, "I don't know if the police would've looked to cover it up, and I can't say that the officer wouldn't have looked to cover it up, but at the end of the day, this is a justification for body cameras."

He said police resistance to body cameras is not a given.

"Cultures can be changed," said Kerik. "I remember when I initially put cameras in the highway patrol cars in the New York City Police Department. the union was against it, the cops were against it, and everybody was against it until the first cop was vindicated in a false allegation against him, and it was vindicated by that camera. Then the attitudes and the culture started to change.

"There's a first time for everything," he said, "and in this case, there's already been a national outcry for more accountability, more transparency and calling for the body cameras. This is one of those scenarios where it's obvious and it's transparent that a body camera would've shown what happened. You can't refute this stuff."

Kerik, also the former correction commissioner for New York, discussed his push for reforms, including less reliance on imprisonment for nonviolent and first-time offenders, and less resort to solitary confinement, which he has called "cruel and unusual."

"Good people that made mistakes, they're going to live with this conviction hanging over their heads for the rest of their lives, and it has an enormous impact on them and their family," he said. "But most importantly, it has a negative impact on society and our economy.

"It's something that hasn't been looked at in years, not the way it's being looked at now," he said. "And it's something that has to change because it's unsustainable, economically, for this country."

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Life is only going to get more difficult for a South Carolina police officer charged with murder in a shooting caught on video now that he is a target of the criminal justice system he once worked for, says a former giant of law enforcement, Bernard Kerik.
Bernie Kerik, NYPD, South Carolina, SC, cop, videotaped, shooting, Midpoint, unjustified, Taser, Walter Scott, Slager
Thursday, 09 April 2015 06:29 PM
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