Tag Archives: walter scott

Michael Slager’s Trial has Begun; Will He be Acquitted Even with Walter Scott’s Murder Caught on Film?

The trial of North Charleston, SC Police Officer Michael Slager, who was caught on video murdering Walter Scott last year, began on Monday with jury selection. That jury has now been selected and after a request for a change of venue by Slager’s defense team was rejected, opening statements were scheduled to begin later today (Thursday).

(See Videos and Links to Related Posts on the CopBlock Network Below)

The fact that the jury consists of six white men and five white women with just one black man is an early question, being that Slager is white and Scott was black. The shooting has stirred controversy over race relations and police violence against minorities since the video taken by a bystander (unbeknownst to Slager) first emerged.

Beyond that, the obvious question is whether a jury will convict Slager even with the abundance and obviousness of the evidence against him. Jurors have a well documented bias toward police based on the social engineering that tells people from the moment they are born that police are heroes and more trustworthy than everyone else, in spite of evidence to the contrary. In addition, prosecutors often “throw the game,” intentionally slanting their performance in favor of the police officers that they work with and are dependent on in order to convict regular citizens.

Regardless of that, the aforementioned solidness of the evidence against Slager makes it hard to believe that he would be able to walk in this particular case. The graphic video that was taken by a random bystander clearly shows him shooting Walter Scott in the back as he is running away from him and posing no danger whatsoever. It also captured his attempt to plant a taser near Scott’s body to justify the murder.

It would be beyond outrageous if Michael Slager somehow manages to walk free in this case. What type of Policeman’s Discount he receives from the judge during sentencing might be another question, altogether.

Related Posts:

Videos

2 Comments

Update: Michael Slager Now Also Facing Federal Charges And Potentially Death Penalty

Former Officer Michael Slager, the South Carolina cop who was caught on film murdering Walter Scott from behind as he ran away, was also indicted two weeks ago by a federal grand jury. The new federal charges are in addition to the state-level charges he already faces for the shooting of Scott. Although it is incredibly unlikely to happen or even be sought, these charges also bring with them the possibility of a death penalty sentence should Slager be convicted.

Via NBCnews.com:

Michael Slager, who was fired by the North Charleston Police Department after last year’s killing of Walter Scott, was indicted on charges of violating civil rights laws, using a firearm in committing a crime of violence, and obstructing justice in the fatal shooting of an unarmed man.

“This is historic,” the Scott family’s lawyer, Chris Stewart, said afterward. “What happened today is that the federal government says it stops now. Police brutality stops now.”

Slager is white. Scott was black. And the message sent by the grand jury is not aimed at the good cops, Stewart said.

“This is a message to the ones who abuse people in this country,” he said.

In the aftermath of Scott’s death, police departments in South Carolina and across the U.S. are adopting body cameras and embracing reform, Stewart said.

“Walter Scott did not die in vain.” he said.

“It’s a bittersweet day,” added Scott’s brother, Anthony. “If it wasn’t for that video camera…. we would not be here today.”

Walter Scott North Charleston MurderScott’s mother, Judy, said she thanks God that her son “was the one that was used to pull the cover off of all the violence.”

“I’m happy for that, but I’m sad because my son is gone,” she said. “I pray that other mothers won’t go through what I have been going through.”

Slager, according to the indictment, misled investigators by falsely claiming that Scott was coming at him with a Taser when he fired his gun.

“In truth … Slager repeatedly fired his weapon at Scott when Scott was running away from him,” the indictment reads.

Slager fired eight times at Scott, who was 50 and whose deadly encounter with the cop began after a traffic stop.

One of the charges filed against Slager — depriving someone of their civil rights under color of law — carries a maximum penalty of death. In the federal system, a decision about whether to actually seek the death penalty will come later.

Personally, I wish I could share in the enthusiasm that the family’s lawyer feels for this. It’s certainly good that another set of charges are being filed, therefore making it that much less likely that Slager will be given the Home Field Advantage cops invariably receive and walk free or at least receive the typical Policeman’s Discount and get nothing but a slap on the wrist and a stern talking to. However, history has yet to prove that the Federal Government or any other level of statist governance is prepared to say, “it stops now. Police brutality stops now.”

Keep those cameras rolling.

1 Comment

Michael Slager is Attempting to Get Out on Bail Again (Plus Recent Related Developments)

Michael Slager Requests Bail Again

Michael Slager, the North Charleston, SC. cop who was caught murdering Walter Scott on video, has filed a new motion seeking an opportunity to post bail while he awaits trial. As reported here at CopBlock.org several months ago, Slager was refused bail by Circuit Judge Clifton Newman because he represents “an unreasonable danger to the community.”

After a motion they filed last week asking for his trial to begin in the spring was rejected, Slager’s lawyers cited  health problems, as well as anxiety and “concern about his fate,” he’s supposedly developed as a result of conditions in jail as reasons to justify him being released on bond.

Via the PostAndCourier.com:

Signed by defense lawyer Cameron Blazer of the Savage Law Firm, the filing mentioned that Slager has been a focus of a ramped-up surveillance program at the jail. While officials insist that the effort to intercept telephone calls and mail is meant to root out threats involving the high-profile inmate, the motion called it “completely divorced from any (jail) safety concern.” Jail officers routinely listen to Slager’s personal conversations, the filing stated.

cop-sc-620x342The lack of privacy has “acutely constrained” Slager’s ability to prepare for trial, Blazer wrote.

Slager also has fallen ill and lost 25 pounds, the attorneys said. Past filings noted that he has celiac disease, causing him to react negatively to gluten. He often faces the “unacceptable choice … of being either hungry or sick” because the jail cannot completely accommodate his diet, the motion stated.

So yeah, jail sucks, the food is horrible, and they spy on you while you’re there. As shocking as that is to pretty much nobody on the planet (and is in fact an issue that should be addressed), the fact that you were wearing a police uniform when you committed murder shouldn’t give you any extra consideration when complaining about that.

Member of Slager Investigation Team Fired Over Facebook Post

It was recently announced that one of the agents who investigated the murder of Walter Scott by Michael Slager was fired in August after posting on Facebook stating that prosecutor’s case in an unnamed homicide probe was “flawed.” Although, the case wasn’t  specified by name in State Law Enforcement Division (SLED) Special Agent Almon Brown’s post, the fact that it was made public in a filing of court papers by Slager’s attorney has led to speculation that he was referring to his case.

According to the PostAndCourier.com, this, along with other recent incidents, has created doubts about whether SLED can objectively perform  their duty to investigate police shootings as a neutral party:

The documentation has raised further questions about SLED’s ability to thoroughly and independently investigate police shootings in South Carolina. Most agencies in the state ask SLED to conduct probes into shootings involving their officers.

A Post and Courier analysis earlier this year, titled “Shots Fired,” found that SLED often left key questions unanswered and failed to thoroughly probe the background of officers who pull the trigger. Last month, [SLED Chief Mark] Keel said police should start looking for ways to learn lessons from shooting cases.

SLED also fired an agent last year over alleged dishonesty, accusing Michele China, a senior agent in the Lowcountry, of doctoring paperwork in a child death probe and inserting a confession into a memo about an interview with a suspect in the case.

Brown has served as an expert on a federal committee on bloodstain analysis, according to a Commerce Department website. He also has been the second vice president for the South Carolina division of the International Association for Identification, a group of forensic scientists.

In his August letter about the agent’s firing, Keel said Brown had “acted improperly” on July 8 when he posted on another person’s public Facebook page about “a pending homicide case.”

“The Facebook posting included a news article that referenced the subject and victim of the case,” Keel wrote. “You made negative comments about the strength of the prosecution’s case, implying that it was a flawed case.”

The copy of the letter in the motion by Slager defense lawyer Andy Savage does not cite the exact words Brown was accused of using.

Savage asked in the paperwork for a judge to order authorities to hand over information about the internal affairs probe into the Facebook post. The document called Brown a primary investigator on Slager’s case.

Slager Sues Police Union For Doing The Right Thing

When even the police union refuses to overlook the obvious guilt of a police officer, you have to know things are going badly for you. Even in really blatant cases, it’s pretty unheard of for a police union not to uphold the Thin Blue Lie and profess the innocence of fellow cops. That’s not the case with Michael Slager and the Southern States Police Benevolent Association, though. Apparently, even the most ardent of police murder enablers can see the writing on the wall for a guy who was caught on video (see below) executing someone from behind as he ran away.

Via the PostAndCourier.com:

Slager paid the organization a monthly fee for insurance that would provide him a legal defense if sued or charged with a crime in connection with his actions as a police officer. But the organization abandoned him after Slager was accused in April of killing Walter Scott during an on-duty confrontation, according to the lawsuit…

Slager’s coverage through the PBA entitled him to legal representation for “any duty related shooting or action which results in death or serious injury,” according to the lawsuit. He has maintained that he was acting within the scope of his duties at the time. He has pleaded not guilty to the murder charge and remains jailed while awaiting trial.

The PBA initially assigned criminal defense attorney David Aylor to represent Slager. Aylor released a statement on his behalf the day before the video surfaced.

The next day, however, when Slager was charged with murder and the video of the shooting went viral around the world, Aylor withdrew as Slager’s lawyer, calling the incident “a terrible tragedy that has impacted our community.”

Slager requested that the PBA provide him with another attorney, but on April 8 the organization turned him down, the lawsuit stated. In doing so, the PBA cited a clause in its insurance coverage allowing it to withhold benefits if it determines an officer had “committed an intentional, deliberate and/or illegal act, either civilly or criminally,” the lawsuit stated.

2 Comments

Walter Scott’s Family Receives $6.5 Million Settlement; Plans to Donate Portion to Charity

On Friday (Oct. 9, 2015), it was announced that the family of Walter Scott had reached a settlement agreement with “the City of North Charleston” for $6.5 million. What that really means is the citizens of a community have once again been forced to pay for the crimes of a Killer Cop after the on camera murder (see second video below) of Scott by Michael Slager on April 4th of this year. Scott had originally been pulled over because a brake light on his car was burnt out. That brake light in the upper back of his rear window wasn’t actually legally required.

Slager, of course is still awaiting trial for Scott’s murder. He remains behind bars after having been denied bail by Judge Clifton Newman, who (rightly) declared that Slager “would constitute an unreasonable danger to the community” if he were allowed to post bond.

The family has stated that the settlement, which was the largest settlement ever agreed to within the state of South Carolina, would be used to care for Walter Scott’s four children. In addition, a portion of the settlement would be donated to Red Cross disaster relief efforts. large parts of South Carolina have recently been effected by severe rain and heavy flooding that has destroyed residents’ homes and other property and resulted in deaths in some areas.

banner-submit

1 Comment

Michael Slager Declared “An Unreasonable Danger to the Community,” Denied Bail

cop-sc-620x342On Monday, a South Carolina judge denied bond for Michael Slager as he awaits trial on murder charges for shooting Walter Scott in the back as he ran away from him on April 4th (see video below). In the order (also included below), Circuit Judge Clifton Newman stated that releasing Slager, who has been held in solitary confinement since his arrest, “would constitute an unreasonable danger to the community.”

On Thursday and again Friday, Slager’s lawyers had argued that he had no prior history of violent crime “outside his work as a policeman” (which is an interesting semi-acknowledgement of the nature of police work) and therefore was not a threat to commit additional violence, if released. They also made the dubious claim that Scott may have been armed at some point before he was shot in the back while completely unarmed and running away from Slager. As is typically the case, they also brought up toxicology tests in an effort to point the blame at Slager’s victim for his actions.

Walter Scott Grave South Carolina

Walter Scott’s Grave

The prosecutor, Scarlett Wilson, characterized Slager’s actions that day as that of a “firing squad” and an “executioner.” She also pointed out that he had been caught on video planting evidence when he ran back to retrieve his taser and then dropped it near Scott’s body in an effort to make it appear he was actually armed.

In addition, prosecutors submitted statements from police interviews by Slager and the man who recorded the video of the shooting, Feiden Santana. In his statement, Slager uses the go-to police shooting excuse of “I feared for my life” and then tells a clearly false and dishonest version of the shooting, in which he claimed Scott was standing in front of him pointing his own taser at him:

In an April 7, 2015 interview with an agent from the State Law Enforcement Division, Slager said he got into a struggle with Scott over his taser.

Slager said he and Scott struggled and Scott grabbed the barrel of his taser, jerked it out of his hand and pointed the barrel directly at him with his arms out.

During the interview Slager stated, “I’m afraid now. Is he going to tase me and take my weapon? Am I going home tonight to my pregnant wife? Is he going to take my weapon and shoot me?”

Slager told the SLED agent he was winded, tired, breathing heavy and he was in fear of his life.

Slager said Scott had the taser in his right hand and was pointing it directly at him.

Slags told the SLED agent he stepped off to his left side, “shuffle-stepping,” as he was trained to do to get out of the way.

According to the document, Slager said that as we was going to the left he pulled his gun and fired multiple times.

Slager said that Scott was turning to his left as Slager fired.

Scott ran off, stumbled into the grass and fell to the ground.

Slager said that he was still standing with his gun pointed at Scott when Scott fell.

Michael Slager Denied Bail Judge Order

The Judge’s Order Denying Bond to Michael Slager

Regardless of whether their was a struggle over Slager’s taser (which is disputed by Santana in his statement) initially, the video of the shooting very clearly and undeniably shows that Scott was not holding a taser and was a long distance away from Slager not posing any threat whatsoever to him at the time he was shot.

Fortunately, the judge saw through all the subterfuge by the defense team and recognized that in light of the strength of the evidence, including a video literally showing him murder Scott, Slager should stay right where he is.

Click Banner to learn more about filming the police

Click Banner to learn more about filming the police

5 Comments

Why You Can (and Should) Always Film the Police

There are a lot of reasons why you should always film the police, and citizenrootsmagazine.com’s editor Chad Hankins has an article all about just that. Chad submitted this post, via the CopBlock.org submissions page.

He states:

This is an op-ed piece I wrote about the importance of filming the police, and I have some aggressive sarcasm in there, so it’s not like every other article on the subject. I hope you guys like it and find it worthwhile.

line-banner

Cop Kicks WomanThe first time that I saw a camera on a phone I thought it was a stupid idea that would never last. In my defense, those first little camera phones were pretty terrible. The early models had resolution that was less than a megapixel and they cost about $400 (which used to be a lot for a phone for you little bastards who weren’t there, with your internets and your non-VHS porn). I couldn’t imagine how this technology could possibly catch on. What were the benefits of dropping a week’s paycheck on a shitty camera that could call people? I’ve never been more happy to be wrong.

Now we have great cameras placed in high tech phones and they’re both having a threesome with the internet, so we’ve seen a societal vicissitude that has started to level the playing field for ordinary citizens. For those of us who don’t have a badge or a sofa made of hundred dollar bills, this is an amazing thing.

For decades we’ve heard stories coming out of black neighborhoods that seemed like they couldn’t possibly be true. At least not on the scale that they were portrayed. These schoolyard tales seemed like some kind of alternate reality that could only exist in a universe where the Gestapo made it’s way into an Orwellian America. The idea that the police would just harass, beat, and even kill citizens who had done nothing wrong was a pill that was too hard for most of us to swallow. The only window that most people had into this world was the incredibly popular show ‘Cops’ on FOX.

There are a couple of reasons why this is an inaccurate and very foggy window into other people’s interactions with the police. The first is that all of those cops knew that they were going to be filmed, so they could modify their habits accordingly. The scary part is that a lot of them still acted like total dicks, despite this knowledge. Another issue with treating that show as if it was an accurate account of police/civilian interactions is the editing room. They probably weren’t interested in showing officers stopping people illegally, searching them without cause, treating them like criminals, and then letting them go because they hadn’t done anything wrong. Television 101: Only show a cop tazing a shirtless black guy if the tazed guy has actually committed a crime. It makes the whole thing a lot easier for the public to digest if the guy convulsing in the dirt has a .38 in one pocket, and an unlabeled pill bottle full of crack in the other.

Just as ‘Cops’ was starting to take off in the early 90’s, there was a slightly different video of police that got international attention.

longdwc - banner

On March 3rd, 1991, the LAPD apprehended California resident and local black driver Rodney King after a high speed chase, and four officers proceeded to beat the living shit out of him. An amateur cameraman named George Holliday caught the whole thing on video, and the officers were charged with assault with a deadly weapon and excessive use of force by a police officer. With the video, which shows King lying on the ground while all four officers cracked him with night sticks and kicked him repeatedly, it seemed that these guys would have to face justice. After all, everyone was seeing the video on a loop on every major news network across the country. How could these guys possibly get away with it?

After they got away with it,  the historic LA riots started and things got ugly. People were pissed. This kind of video had never gotten this scale of attention. It brought the racial disparity of police interactions to the forefront of everyone’s dinner conversations.

LT John Pike UC Davis Pepper SprayNow we have videos like this all the time. It’s impossible to keep up with the flood of “Unarmed black man shot in back by police!” videos that pop up on the internet every day. It’s a wonderful thing that we all have video cameras in our pockets and we can record cops shooting unarmed people in the back. This kind of full scale civilian surveillance is the only hope that we have to change the narrative on police brutality. The indictments of these uniformed criminals have been far less consistent than the videos of their atrocities, but we’re getting there. We just need to do away with paid leave, and we may see a decrease in these incidents. Getting a paid vacation for shooting someone is a sadist’s wet dream.

It’s not only important to film cops, but it’s 100% legal. Cops can tell you to stop recording. Not legally, they’re just verbally capable of it. You can’t interfere with an investigation, but you can stand clear and film the crap out of them. If they ask you to back up, you have to, but you can do it one step at a time, making sure you don’t lose your shot. That is, if you have the wherewithal and cool as a cucumber disposition required to deal with an agitated cop who wants to mace your ballbag. That’s a personal choice.

Another thing that the police like to do is try to confiscate your phone or tell you that you have to delete the video. Neither of those things are legal. In fact, without a warrant they can’t even force you to show them the video.

An honest cop with a clear conscience won’t ask you to do these things and probably won’t care that you’re filming him. If you do get a cop on the business end of your camera who’s pissed about it, then you’ve just caught yourself a crooked bastard. Don’t underestimate him. He probably wants to take the family to Yellowstone and a bullet in your face has been a proven method for getting the time and the money to make that dream vacation a reality.

The vast social awakening that’s come as a result of videos of police killings (Grey, Garner, Brown, and most recently DuBose) is a direct result of technology that we all have now. Hell, even the AARP flip phone with the giant buttons that your grandma is still learning how to use probably has some form of a camera on it. Now we just need to understand and exercise our rights to use our cameras to keep police accountable. While police are still rarely indicted and barely ever convicted, the message is becoming clear. The judicial system is starting to understand that we have no interest in quietly tolerating the kind of over reaching bullshit that many police officers have gotten away with throughout their entire careers. Filming cops is a scary activity, there’s no doubt about that. They yell, they threaten, they intimidate, but they can’t stop you from doing it. And frankly, there isn’t a damn thing else in our fight. As average citizens we can’t indict, arrest, or fire them. We can just film. With everything that we’ve seen in the last couple of years, it’d be stupid not to.

– Chad Hankins
citizenrootsmagazine.com

banner-submit

4 Comments

“Chalk the Police State” with the CopBlock Network on July 18th

Chalk The Police StateTime for the Third Annual “Chalk the Police State” Day is fast approaching on July 18th. Like previous years, Nevada Cop Block and the CopBlock Network would like to make this a national event with as many cities as possible making a statement about police brutality and accountability, as well as the continuing militarization and expansion of police forces and governments.

Originally, the call for Chalk the Police State Day was put out by members of Nevada Cop Block, dubbed the “Sunset 5” after we were arrested for legally and peacefully protesting (see below for more details). However, the use of chalk in Cop Block protests actually dates back to the “Manchester 8” arrests in 2011 and two subsequent annual “Chalk the Police Day” events. It was through participation in those that members of Nevada Cop Block  found out how useful and effective chalk protests could be. So, technically this could be called the fifth annual chalk protest by members of the CopBlock Network nationwide.

#BlueLiesMatter

#BlueLiesMatter

The number of people killed by police this year alone already stands at 590 (and counting rapidly), with the per day average death toll being three people. Of those nearly 600 people whose lives have ended at the hands of the police, some of them have gotten a lot of attention and inspired massive protests. But for every Eric Garner, Michael Brown, Freddie Gray, Antonio Zambrano-Montes, John Crawford, Kelly Thomas, Walter Scott, and Tamir Rice, there are many others, such as Michael Nida, Stanley Gibson, Manuel Diaz, Danielle Willard, and Erik Scott, in your own communities that don’t get the same sort of national attention.

July 18th will be an opportunity for local groups to highlight police brutality on a national level. You can choose who to talk about with a national audience ready to listen via the CopBlock Network.

As a tool of protest, chalk has many advantages:

  • Chalk protests require very little preplanning: No routes have to be picked, no streets or traffic have to be blocked to accommodate that route, no signs have to be made or transported, and no leaders have to be picked to coordinate all of that. Basically, you just pick a location and hand out some chalk. People can decide for themselves (another advantage) what and how much they want to write. The most complicated part of the planning is making sure someone picks up enough chalk that day. In fact, chalk protests can be very spontaneous and unscheduled. Some members of NVCopBlock have been known to carry chalk on them just in case the need for an impromptu protest presents itself. No “conspiring” is necessary.
  • Chalk allows small groups to make a big impact: One of the biggest advantages to chalk protests is the ability it creates for a small determined group to maximize their impact. While we hope that lots of people show up everywhere, the truth is you don’t need 100 people with signs to get the message out. Instead, within a relatively short amount of time a small number of people can write out multiple messages each. Anybody walking past the location of the protest will see those messages, even if you don’t have 50 people to hold individual signs. In fact, the activity of drawing usually creates curiosity among people in the area and grabs their attention. Many of them want to come and see what all the commotion is about.
  • Forty Feet of InjusticeChalk allows for a lasting visual impact: One of the staples of chalk protests, especially amongst members of Nevada Cop Block have been taking photos of the messages chalked. As an extension of the artistic nature of the chalk itself, it creates powerful visual imagery that transcends the protest. Even if the chalk messages are quickly (and easily) cleaned up right afterwards, those images and their thousand words live on. Sharing those photos via the internets and social media, such as Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Instagram, etc., allows people throughout the country and even worldwide that didn’t actually attend the protest to see and pass along those messages. In fact, when those of us from Nevada Cop Block were arrested back in 2013, the Associated Press and other media outlets used my photos from previous protests in their stories. The LVMPD was soon faced with the rather unpleasant reality that the statements they were trying to suppress about how often they murdered people and how non-existent their accountability for those murders was were popping up in newspapers and websites all across the United States. That included the front page of the local papers.
  • Chalk is very easy: Most people drew on sidewalks as a child and, even if you didn’t, it’s not exactly hard to figure out how to write stuff. And oftentimes in the past there have even been children, who can give you some pointers, at Cop Block’s chalk protests.
  • Chalk is fun: Drawing with chalk allows people to be creative and express themselves in the process of protesting. You’re not just limited to walking around shouting slogans and holding signs.
  • Chalk is cheap: The cost of a chalk protest basically consists of a few boxes of chalk and not much else. Those can be easily and very inexpensively found in most department stores or art/toy stores. You probably spend more on dinner most days than you will on a chalk protest.
  • Chalk doesn’t cause damage: Most of the false claims regarding “damage” caused by chalk protests are based on the clean up costs involved once the protests are over and the police (or other target of the protest) no longer want to have their crimes highlighted on the public sidewalks for the world to see. However, the truth is that chalk is very easily cleaned up with nothing but water. In fact, the simple act of pouring water on the chalk usually is enough to remove it. Beyond that, it doesn’t even actually have to be cleaned up. It isn’t in anyone’s way, nor does it prevent anyone from going about their business in a usual manner if they want to. The only real reason somebody would want to remove it before the wind, rain, or even people just walking over it would do so naturally would be if they didn’t want to have a spotlight shined on their bad behaviour and lack of accountability.
  • Chalk is Free Speech: Several courts in various parts of the country have already ruled that sidewalks are considered public forums and that chalk in fact doesn’t cause any real damage. Therefore, writing out criticisms of police and other governmental officials is a legal and protected form of free speech protected by the First Amendment.

Chalk Arrests Las VegasJuly 18th marks the two year anniversary of when members of Nevada Cop Block called for the first Chalk the Police State Day amid the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department’s attempts to shut down legal, peaceful anti-police brutality protests involving chalk throughout the Las Vegas area. Those attempts at intimidation, harassment, and retaliation against people bringing attention to their crimes eventually led to the arrests of three people and charges against two others for the non-crimes of writing on the sidewalk with chalk and conspiring to do so.

Although the “graffiti” charges were dropped shortly after, amid a large and vocal public uproar locally, the intent to silence criticism was fairly obvious. In addition, that obviousness and the blatant overreach it represented actually resulted in more publicity for the lack of accountability and blatant murders by the LVMPD and other Las Vegas area police departments than the original protests ever had. Their inflation of (unnecessary) clean up costs to justify making arrests, rather than giving out citations, and the possibility of a four year sentence that some of those arrested potentially faced brought attention nationally.

Chalk Protest Las VegasSince that time, Nevada Cop Block has held countless chalk protests throughout Las Vegas and even other parts of the country. The effectiveness and ease of chalk protests have led to it being our primary choice for political actions. Also, although some people were too afraid to take part after the initial arrests and there have been many instances of harassment during subsequent protests, as of yet there have been no additional arrests associated with chalking. In fact, in some ways the media coverage it created has enabled us to get our message out even more effectively via interviews and the spread of chalk protests among other groups.

Last year, thirteen different groups from all over the country participated in Second Annual Chalk the Police State Day. With the spread of the CopBlock Network over the years into ever more cities and even internationally, it shouldn’t really be hard to get even more out onto the sidewalks this year. July 18th will be a day for everyone who is tired of police brutality and and the occupying armies that local police are rapidly turning into, regardless of where you are, to let them know that we won’t tolerate them any longer within our communities and against our friends and families.

Bring attention to those high profile national cases, highlight the abuses by your own local police departments, and put everyone responsible for them on notice that we are watching and the days of waiting are rapidly nearing an end. Bring so much attention to their crimes that they have no choice, but to create meaningful change.

The CopBlock Network Facebook event page for the National Chalk the Police State Day is located here:

If you haven’t already “liked” the CopBlock Network’s Facebook page, you should in order to get updates. Ideally, each individual city should set up their own event page (such as this Las Vegas invite) to coordinate locally. However, you should also invite everyone you believe would want to participate (and stop hanging out with people that won’t) to the national event, especially those from a different city than you, in order to get the word out to as many people as possible.

Find a CopBlock Group near you!

Find a CopBlock Group near you!

17 Comments

Las Vegas Cop Shot Unarmed Man; Won’t Be Charged Since He Was Only Witness

North Las Vegas Police ShootingJust over a year ago, in March of 2014, Officer Raymond Lopez of the North Las Vegas Police Department saw a homeless man near an abandoned home. Thinking he was either squatting in or scavenging from the vacant house, Lopez approached David Robinson and about a minute later shot him three times in the head and once in the shoulder, killing him.

Although a knife was later (conveniently) found in Robinson’s back pocket, it obviously wasn’t in his hand, nor was he armed in any other way. In addition, no claim of physical resistance by Robinson was ever made, even by Lopez. His only claim to justify the shooting was that he saw “the glint of a blade.” This is fairly reminiscent of the claim by Jacquar Roston, of the LVMPD, that he shot an unarmed man because a shiny spot on his hat looked like a gun.

In what is a rather unsurprising outcome for murders involving Las Vegas area police, given their track record of having never charged a single cop in the entire 100+ year history of the city for shooting someone, Clark County District Attorney Steve Wolfson has just announced that Lopez’s action that day “cannot be deemed criminal.” And although even Wolfson can’t work up the nerve to claim this shooting was justified, he falls back on an excuse that there is a lack of evidence, based on the fact that the only (surviving) witness was Officer Lopez, in order to keep that perfect record intact.

CBN-network-bannerNot only did Lopez make sure he left no witnesses, but as is typically the case, he got a little help from his friends. The Force Science Institute, an independent research group brought in to analyze the case, stated that police “investigators” had asked Lopez incomplete questions. Going through the motions of doing an interview (or purposely steering interviewees away from important details that don’t fit the established narrative) is a known tactic police use to avoid scrutiny when cops are involved in a questionable shooting. It’s not anything that Las Vegas area police investigators haven’t already resorted to in previous officer involved shootings, either. FSI recommended that Lopez be re-interviewed in order to attain more comprehensive answers as to what happened that day. Instead, Lopez refused to submit to any further interviews and then quit in January as a result of the bad publicity from the case.

Per the Las Vegas Review Journal:

District Attorney Steve Wolfson

District Attorney Wolfson

Due to the lack of evidence, the district attorney’s office couldn’t disprove Lopez’s version of events, and were “unable to prove that the actions of Officer Lopez were in fact unjustified,” the report said.

“Based on the limited information we had in this case, it was important to determine if the officer’s explanation of events could be validated,” District Attorney Steve Wolfson said in the news release. “Making sure that we provide a thorough and accurate analysis in every officer involved shooting is our priority.”

As everyone knows, not every murder has a witness, not every crime has a “smoking gun” that by itself proves guilt or innocence. That’s generally determined by having the person(s) and crime scene involved investigated thoroughly for whatever evidence there is available and having them face tough and impartial questioning about any inconsistencies that might be uncovered in the process. However, in the case of police officers they find themselves being questioned by friendly co-workers, given time to get their story together, and not having any of those inconsistencies questioned. Much like with the beginnings of the aftermath of the Walter Scott shooting, any story that is presented by an officer to justify the shooting is readily accepted. Unless, of course, some video suddenly surfaces to contradict that and there’s no opportunity for the police to make that video disappear, like in the case of Erik (no relation to Walter) Scott.

N. Las Vegas Police ShootingIf anyone else was involved in shooting someone, they would be questioned about why they felt the need to point a gun at someone who wasn’t physically resisting in the first place and why they felt a need to fire that gun when the person’s only weapon was tucked away in their pocket and they could easily unload their gun (that was already out and aimed at the person) long before the person could ever pull the knife out and prepare to use it, even if they decided to do so. Perhaps that person would have good answers for those questions, but it’s kinda important to ask those questions when, “making sure that we provide a thorough and accurate analysis in every officer involved shooting is our priority,” as Wolfson would have people believe.

Most people would be arrested if they were involved in a deadly shooting and they certainly wouldn’t be allowed to just quit their job and walk away from the investigation with no further questions asked.

However, this is the typical M.O. of police departments nationwide when “investigating” their own and it’s a particular specialty of Las Vegas area police and the Clark County District Attorney’s Office. This type of toothless investigation is something Las Vegas residents have come to expect from both those entities. And this isn’t the first time that a local cop has been allowed to kill homeless people with no questions asked. In fact, pretty much the exact same scenario played out just about exactly 20 years ago.

ChalkThePoliceState-29aBetween 1994 and 1996, LVMPD Officer Greg Pease killed three homeless men under incredibly questionable circumstances. In each case, Pease reported he was investigating a potential burglary, claimed he acted in self defense after being attacked with a knife, and also just like Lopez the only other witness ended up dead. There is also one more similarity between the two. In each case, Pease’s actions were ruled justified, even though in the third instance he had the name of the man who “ambushed” him written on a notepad in his car prior to the incident.

It took getting caught using a LVMPD fuel card to fill his personal vehicle up for Pease to finally get forced into resigning. So, perhaps in that respect they’ve progressed a slight bit by forcing Lopez out after his first unjustifiable killing. Police departments in Las Vegas have a long and, at this point, unbroken record of looking the other way when their officers act inappropriately, up to and including those that murder.  This case won’t and shouldn’t give anyone much hope that this policy will change anytime soon.

banner-store

13 Comments

Bill Scott Testimony in Support of NV Bodycam Bill: “My Son Erik Might Be Alive Today…” (Video)

“My eldest son, Erik Scott, might be alive today if Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department officers had been required to wear body cameras in the summer of 2010, when Erik was shot to death.”

– William B. Scott

On March 31, 2015, the Nevada State Assembly’s Government Affairs Committee held a hearing on Nevada State Assembly Bill AB403, which would require all Nevada police to wear body cameras. Testimony was given by various witnesses, both for and against, the proposed bill. Among those speaking in support of mandating bodycams was Bill Scott, whose son Erik Scott was gunned down by three members of the LVMPD outside a Summerlin, NV Costco, back in 2010.

Body CameraOne of the most contentious issues relating to that day has always been the lack of a video showing what exactly happened. Further, the incredibly dubious claim that the one camera which would have provided that video was malfunctioning at the time, has done nothing but create questions and inspire doubt. Although that controversy itself, along with the already mounting examples of body worn or dash mounted cameras similarly “malfunctioning” or simply being shut off by cops, shows why bodycams and dashcams aren’t the end all-solution to police abuses, they certainly could go a long way toward curtailing them, as Bill rightly states in his testimony. This would be especially true, if they were accompanied with real consequences for police officers that tamper with or turn off those cameras.

As has been demonstrated many times, knowing they are on camera and that there will be evidence of their crimes has often worked very effectively as a deterrent to police abuses. Even when cops aren’t wise enough to stay on good behavior because they know they are being filmed, cameras have often yielded the proof necessary to hold them accountable for their actions. Access and control of that evidence is still a huge issue that necessitates that we should still carry our own cameras and film the police every time we or someone else is stopped by the police, however having another camera recording all the time is obviously a step in the right direction.

Interestingly, the almost singular excuse used to oppose bodycams by those speaking against them (which consisted almost exclusively of police employees) was the expense involved in buying them and storing the footage. That’s actually kind of understandable, since the cops obviously don’t want to just come right out and say they don’t want anybody to see all the bad shit they do all day or especially not to have irrefutable evidence, when those things cross the line into prosecutable acts. The problem with that line of reasoning is that all of the many lawsuits being paid out for the bad conduct of police would more than easily pay for the added expense associated with requiring body cameras.

CBN-network-bannerIn Las Vegas, the citizens eventually paid about $2,000,000 total for the settlements to the family of Stanley Gibson, after he was murdered by Jesus Arevalo (who is also receiving between $23,000 and $28,000 every year from those taxpayers, as a de facto reward for that murder). That alone would put a huge dent in the cost required to outfit cops within the LVMPD with bodycams. So, the deterrence for murders by Nevada police that wearing bodycams would represent, would more than likely actually save money by eliminating the need to constantly pay those settlements to the families of their victims, as well as the associated increases in the premiums (from $1.3 million in 2012 to $6.9 in 2013 at the LVMPD) for the liability insurance that Nevada police departments have against such settlements.

Bill opens his half-hour long testimony (video embedded below) with these statements:

My eldest son, Erik Scott, might be alive today, if Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Dept. officers had been required to wear body cameras in the summer of 2010, when Erik was shot to death. Why? Because body-worn cameras are a powerful deterrent to the use of deadly force. They literally are “unimpeachable  witnesses.”

 

Officer William Mosher—who panicked and shot my son as Erik and his girlfriend calmly walked out of Costco-Summerlin—had already killed one man, in his first five years on the Las Vegas Metro force. That shooting was ruled “justified.” With no video evidence or civilian witnesses, inquest jurors had no alternative but to accept the accounts of on-scene police officers, even though they were highly suspect.

 

If he’d been wearing a bodycam on July 10, 2010, Mosher might not have fired at Erik. Having narrowly escaped criminal charges before, Mosher might have asked himself—as he hovered near the door of Costco, shaking like the proverbial leaf, according to witnesses:  “If I shoot and kill again, will I be fired? Will criminal charges be filed against me?” With his and dozens of other cops’ body cameras documenting every move, there would be no escaping the truth this time.

 

Body cameras on Mosher, Thomas Mendiola and Joshua Stark (the three shooters, who fired seven rounds into Erik, including five in his back) might have motivated the officers to opt for a much different, life-saving tactic: Follow Erik into the parking lot, de-escalate the situation by calmly talking to him, and check his legal concealed-carry permit. Everybody would have gone home safely…and Erik Scott would be alive and well today.

A full transcript of his entire testimony can be found at his website: williambscott.com

Bill’s book “the Permit,” a fictionalized account of Erik Scott’s murder, can be purchased via his personal website.

A related article Bill recently wrote for Politico.com about bodycams and how they may have affected not just Erik’s encounter with the LVMPD, but also how they potentially would have kept Michael Slager from murdering Walter Scott in North Charleston, South Carolina can be read here.

The unedited video of the full Nevada State Assembly’s Government Affairs Committee hearing on Nevada State Assembly Bill AB403 can be viewed here.

click banner for tips on filming the police

click banner for tips on filming the police

51 Comments