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Mon Apr 13, 2015, 11:57 PM

The Shockingly Familiar Killing of Walter Scott

Walter Scott's killing is unusual in several ways. It's unusual that a traffic stop ended in death. It's unusual—and decisive—that it was caught on film. And it's highly unusual that it has produced a murder charge against the officer."

*Most encounters do not end with violence or death, even if they produce humiliation and tension with police. But they are far more likely to end in a killing in the United States than anywhere else."

*In addition to being charged with murder, Slager was fired by the city of North Charleston on Wednesday. If he's convicted, Slager could face the death penalty. That makes this case exceptional. As a grand jury's decision not to charge New York police officer Daniel Pantaleo in the death of Eric Garner vividly demonstrated, officers are seldom charged with crimes when suspects or citizens are killed. A Bowling Green State University report found 41 murder or manslaughter charges for police involved in on-duty shootings over a seven-year period—a stretch during which the FBI counted 2,718 cases of justifiable homicide by law-enforcement officers. Meanwhile, a separate Cato Institution report found that only one in three officers who are charged are convicted.

That makes it all the more surprising that Slager wasn't the only officer charged in South Carolina on Tuesday. Justin Gregory Craven, an officer in North Augusta, was arrested and charged in the death of Ernest Satterwhite, whom Craven shot repeatedly after a car chase that ended in Satterwhite's driveway. That shooting, too, was caught on video. "


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