4.5 The Case of Walter Scott (April 4th, 2015: North Charleston, South Carolina)
Walter Scott aged 50 was on the fateful day stopped by traffic police officer Michael Slager over a broken brake light. The officer shot Scott while he was running away from the officer as he fell down to his death. The report that Scott later recorded contradicted a video recording by an anonymous witness that shows the entire incident plainly as it occurred. Consequently, the contradiction led to the indictment of the officer who is awaiting trial in October, 2016. The case of Walter Scott plainly displays police brutality at its rawest form where an unarmed African-American man is shot by the police from the back while fleeing. In any case, the suspect posed no potential threat to the officer; hence, the officer acted without any regard for the life of the suspect.
4.5.2 Old Media
188.8.131.52 The New York Times
Fig 29: Excerpt from New York Times on Walter Scott’s shooting (Robles & Blinder, 2015).
In this news report, the funeral service of Walter Scott is used to eulogise the man who the community he belonged to praised for being a man of exceptional character and that they did not expect to be victimised. To that extent, the publication paints Scott in good light saying that his profile as a built or huge bodied individual may have been the cause for his demise. However, racial profiling was brought out as the instigator of the violence rather killing of Walter Scott by the police officer.
184.108.40.206 The Baltimore Sun
Fig 30: Excerpt from The Baltimore Sun’s Report on Walter Scott’s Shooting (Campbell C. , 2015).
The Baltimore Sun also reports positively about Walter Scott where the main concern of the newspaper was to evaluate the content of character of the man. By paining the man as an ex-service man, the newspaper article projected Scott as an individual who has served the country in the armed forces and by extension someone who did not deserve the treatment he got from officer Michael Slager. Hence, the newspaper noted that Scott was not only defenseless at the time of his death but a loss of a man who had served his country in the armed forces.
Fig 31: Excerpt from CNN’s report on Walter Scott’s shooting (Fantz & Yan, 2015).
The CNN report is quite instrumental in evaluating the level of threat that the suspect posed to the officer involved in the shooting. As such, the video does not show any aggression on the part of Walter Scott; nonetheless, the officer proceeded to shoot the suspect without possible cause or indication that his life was threatened by the suspect. To that extent, the officer acted without duress when a second video emerged of the officer shooting Walter Scott from behind as he ran.
4.5.3 New Media
Fig 32: Excerpts from Facebook posts about Walter Scott (Facebook, 2015).
In the case of new media Facebook, only remorseful comments about Walter Scott’s shooting were circulated on the social media site. As such, people commenting came to terms with the fact that Walter Scott’s cold murder by officer Slager would have gone unpunished if it were not for the anonymous video that surfaced implicating the police officer. The sentiments shared by the people commenting on the social media site are a vivid depiction of the outrage that individuals in the United States have over police brutality. More importantly, the revelations as presented in the video paint the picture of a defenseless man who posed no threat to the police officer while he was shot running away from the police officer. That fact was reiterated in the discussions on YouTube calling for justice for the fallen one-time hero who served in the armed forces of the United States Navy during the 1980s.
Fig 33: Excerpts from Twitter on Walter Scott’s shooting (Twitter, 2015).
Twitter posts are very much similar to the post on Facebook presented by various parties with messages concerning their feelings on the Walter Scott shootings. Again, a reiteration of remorse and solidarity with the family of Walter Scott can be witnessed as the comments are directed towards communication of a message of condolences for the loss that Scott’s family bore while at the same time an expression of outrage and discontent with the police officer who shot him is evident.
Fig 34: Excerpts from video showing Walter Scott’s Shooting on YouTube (NBC News, 2015).
The excerpts from YouTube video posting of Walter Scott’s shooting clearly show skepticism and shock in equal measure at the nature of the event’s unfolding. To that esteem, the video elicited reactions from both sides of the divide. However, all those commenting were of the opinion that Walter Scott posed no threat to the police officer as he was fleeing the scene on foot. The officer was largely termed as a murderer for having shot Scott in the back while he was fleeing.
4.5.4 Case Review
An analysis of the results yielded from the review of Walter Scott’s case shows that the video of the shooting is inexplicable in presenting the events in raw form. As such, deniability of the inhumanity projected by the police officer was equally undeniable. Moreover, outrage at the way the police officer handled the situation followed the fact that the Walter Scott was fleeing when he was shot from the back by the officer. As such 18 instances of positive comments about Walter Scott as an unarmed ex-service man surpassed 4 instances of negative comments that appeared in both traditional and modern media. The indications are that the video of Scott’s shooting spoke independently in presenting the situation plainly which projects police brutality as an issue that faces Americans, the greatest casualties being African-Americans. The breakdown of the summary results as pertains to Walter Scott’s case are as under;
Presentation of Walter Scott
Table 4: Positive and Negative Portrayals of Walter Scott by Old and New Media (Source: Author).
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