Tags: Exclusive Interviews | MidPoint | John Cardillo | Mike Bell | South Carolina | police shooting

Ex-NYPD Officer: Murder Charge Justified for Cop in SC Shooting

By    |   Wednesday, 08 April 2015 04:08 PM

A South Carolina police officer charged with murder on Tuesday for shooting a man in the back after a traffic stop did not need to use deadly force, judging by a video that shows the apparently unarmed victim running away when he is shot multiple times, says a former New York City police officer.

"I don't want to go as far as saying 'execution,' but it certainly does not look like a lawful … shooting," NYPD veteran John Cardillo told "MidPoint" host Ed Berliner on Newsmax TV on Wednesday. "From what I see on the video, I have to agree with the officer being charged."

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Cardillo, a Miami-based investigative writer and commentator on law enforcement matters, was joined on air by retired Air Force Lt. Col. Mike Bell, whose 21-year-old son was shot and killed in 2004 by a Kenosha, Wis., police officer during a traffic stop in front of the family's home.

Bell's son was unarmed, and the officer was cleared of wrongdoing. Bell went on to campaign extensively for Wisconsin's first-in-the-nation law, passed in 2014, requiring that police-involved shootings be investigated by an outside body, independent of police and prosecutors.

Bell described the video of the shooting in North Charleston, South Carolina, as difficult to watch but valuable for establishing what happened on Saturday between the victim, Walter Scott, 50, and officer Michael Slager, 33, a six-year veteran of the force.
"It did make me feel sick to my stomach and immediately brought back memories of what happened to my own son," said Bell. "Luckily, there was video to capture this in this day and age."

Bell said that in his son's case, it was the word of the Kenosha police officer against five eyewitnesses, including the victim's mother and sister.

Bell and Cardillo agreed that oversight of police departments is essential, but they differed on particulars, and on whether law enforcement has a systemic problem in light of several recent deaths of  unarmed people, mostly African-Americans, in encounters with police officers.

"There has to be a cultural shift," Bell said of policing. "I don't think the older officers are going to make that shift. The shift has to come in with the new recruits going through the academy and so forth. These types of incidents need to be used as training scenarios to help promote safety for future incidents like this."

Cardillo said that police officers are trained not to resort first to deadly force, and that the overwhelming majority follow their training, "so I don't like to paint the entire profession with that broad brush."

He described the North Charleston officer, Slager, as an apparent exception, based on the video and other available information about the shooting of Scott.

"I don't know one cop backing officer Slager today," said Cardillo.

"From what the reports indicate, this was a non-felony car stop," he said. "It was a relatively innocuous offense, a broken tail light. [Scott] exited his vehicle, ran — his family says it's because of outstanding child-support warrants for which he had been arrested in the past."

Slager has reportedly said that he feared for his life during a struggle with Scott for the officer's Taser. The video appears to show a brief scuffle, with something — possibly the Taser — dropping to the ground, and Scott running away before he is brought down by gunfire. Eight shots ring out on the video.

"That typically warrants a foot pursuit and radioing a few additional units," said Cardillo. "I honestly have no idea why eight rounds were fired."

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

"The problem is, how many other cases like the Scott case are out there, that there wasn't a video recording by a bystander in the background?" said Bell. "We just don't know."

Bell wants other states to follow Wisconsin's lead on outside review of police conduct, and to embrace other reforms including body cameras for officers and more comprehensive reporting and tracking of police-involved shootings.

"Law enforcement needs to step up and demonstrate to the community and the nation that the system is clean," he said.

Cardillo said that outside review of police conduct already exists in the form of district and state attorneys, and that data on police-involved shootings is available through the FBI's uniform crime statistics.

"I'm never one for more oversight where it just becomes cluttered, or we run into situations where biased, agenda-driven groups that are anti-police look to jam police up," he said.

Said Bell, "I am pro-police but I am anti-corruption."

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A South Carolina police officer charged with murder on Tuesday for shooting a man in the back after a traffic stop did not need to use deadly force, judging by a video that shows the apparently unarmed victim running away when he is shot multiple times, says a former . . .
John Cardillo, Mike Bell, South Carolina, police shooting
Wednesday, 08 April 2015 04:08 PM
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