A veteran NYPD officer told Business Insider that the North Charleston policeman who fatally shot an unarmed black man named Walter Scott as he ran away is in serious hot water.
The decorated cop, who has investigated several high-profile cases during his two decades on the force, said Scott posed no threat to Michael Slager, the former cop who was fired and charged with murder over the shooting.
“[Slager] is in trouble. He should have not shot the guy,” said the high ranking officer who has served two decades with the nation’s largest police department. “The guy was running away. He should not have shot the guy. You can’t do that.”
“He wasn’t [a threat], the guy was running away. You can’t shoot a fleeing suspect unless that guy is firing back at you,” the cop continued. “If he’s running away, chase his fat a** or call for backup. You don’t shoot the guy.”
That said, the officer we spoke to explained the train of thought that leads to justified shootings.
“When it all comes down to using deadly force, it’s a decision you make in seconds,” he explained. “You don’t have time to think about it, the moral repercussions.”
Experts who spoke with The New York Times held the same opinion, noting that shooting fleeing suspects was only acceptable in a narrow set of cases like when suspects were about to commit a dangerous felony.
“Whatever happened, this suspect was running away,” Stephen A. Saltzburg, a professor at the George Washington University Law School in Washington and a former deputy assistant attorney general in the criminal division of the Justice Department, told the paper.
“The suspect was trying to avoid the officer. It is highly doubtful that the officer could legitimately claim that he thought that the suspect posed a danger to the life or the serious health of anybody else in the community,” he continued.
A policeman who spoke to the Times called the footage “horrendous.”
When asked about the recent fatal Miami Gardens shooting of mentally disturbed man Lavall Hall, the NYPD cop who spoke to Business Insider explained that each situation is different. The case of Hall has also come under close scrutiny this week following the release of a police dash cam video showing an officer firing the fatal shots.
Police say Hall was repeatedly swinging a broomstick, which the officer we spoke to said can actually be considered a lethal weapon.
“It depends on if the broomstick is cracked, if it has sharp edges,” the NYPD officer said. “Even a pencil can be a weapon. You can be standing there and somebody could just be holding a pencil and jam it into your neck or eye.”
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