On April 4, 2015, a North
Charleston Police Officer shot and killed Walter Scott. Michael Shlager, the
responding officer, reported that he pulled Scott over for a broken tail light.
Scott fled on foot and Shlager pursued. Shlager claimed that Scott grabbed
Shlager’s Taser and that Shlager shot Scott in
A bystander’s video showed a conflict far different than Officer Shlager’s
report. The video shows Officer Shlager shooting
an unarmed Walter Scott in the back as Walter Scott ran away. The video also shows
the officer walk back to where the scuffle occurred, pick an object off of the
ground and drop it near Scott’s
many believe this unidentified object was Shlager’s Taser. The sad case of
Walter Scott and Michael Shlager shows both the growing importance of video
footage as evidence and as a means to hold police officers accountable for
President Obama’s inauguration to a second term of office earlier this week officially marked the end of what many considered to be the most contentious, extended, and even exhausting campaign season in recent memory. When asked who is to blame for the particularly frustrating character of the 2012 elections, more than a few Americans would probably point their finger squarely at the media. The rise of 24-hour cable news, and perhaps more importantly, the ready accessibility of news on the Internet certainly has the potential to leave consumers feeling oversaturated by content and commentary.
Carlos Miller’s recent trial victory represents another small step in the successful assertion of the First Amendment rights of citizen-journalists. Miller, who runs the website Photography Is Not A Crime, was charged with resisting arrest when he refused to stop filming and evacuate an area during an Occupy Miami event. While the American Civil Liberties Union states that police only have the right to stop an individual from photographing in a public space when the photographer’s activities “are truly interfering with legitimate law enforcement operations” a quick glance down Miller’s website shows that police are quick to use charges of resisting arrest to confiscate then delete digital images.