Walter Lamar Scott, a forklift operator and former US coastguard, was shot down on April 04, 2015 in an alleged self-defense attempt by a North Charleston Police Officer, Michael Thomas Slager. The officer was arrested three days after the shooting on murder charges which he denied. Lamar was stopped for driving a vehicle with an out-of-order brake light. Slager argued that he was left with no option as Scott snatched his taser and threateningly approached him. However, a witness captured the incident in a video which showed the victim fleeing away from the officer. The video served as convincing evidence for the jury to convict the suspect of killing. Slager was sentenced 20 years in jail in May 2018 after he pleaded guilty (Blinder, 2017).
Two victimology theories are relevant to the case at hand. Going with the Victim Precipitation Theory, Scott was treated as a victim only because he was shot dead (Muftić & Hunt, 2013). However, his action of fleeing resulted in the growth of suspicion which led the ex-officer to shoot him. Considering the Lifestyle/Routine theory, Scott and Slager both can be treated as a victim. The theory suggests that an individual’s excessive exposure to crime may lead one to become a victim of crime (McNeeley, 2015). Scott had a criminal history in that he was charged earlier, on multiple occasions, with drug trafficking and evading child payments. Slager was charged too earlier for using taser without reason.
Weighing the legal support, in this case, the officer could have gotten away from conviction if the incident was not filmed. This vindication would have resulted because the officer claimed that the suspect threatened him with the snatched taser. After Tennessee vs. Garner case in 1985 (Legewie & Fagan, 2016), the court maintained that the use of a fatal weapon by police is legal if and only if the subject or any other person are significantly threatened by the offender (Legewie & Fagan, 2016). However, the video revealed that Scott was running away instead of approaching the ex-officer. The other legal resource at the officer’s disposal was the leniency in the sentence which he used.
The conditions and environment at and around the site of the killing and during the prosecution have a substantial role in deciding about the case. At the time of the killing, the fleeing of Scott may have raised suspicion at Slager’s end. There was no apparent reason to run away as driving a vehicle with non-functional brake light is not a big charge. In the wake of the contemporary scenario where mass shootings are increased substantially, a fleeing person may become threatening to the police officers. Nevertheless, it cannot be termed a justified reason to kill the fleeing suspect. Furthermore, the Slager may have pleaded guilty because he had no evidence to prove his innocence. In the absence of evidence, he might have pleaded guilty to an avoided life sentence. In such circumstances, I would have recommended Slager to do the same as he did because it was the most appropriate choice he could make.
The ex-police officer has initially tried to utilize the law that endorses his use of a deadly weapon against an unarmed individual (Legewie & Fagan, 2016). However, the clause is not applicable to him since the suspect did not pose any serious threat that could have justified the use of a gun. In the remaining court proceeding, the victim did not use any resource except the getting some leniency in the punishment for confessing the murder. To conclude, the murder was apparently unjustified since the killer had no significant evidence in support of his claim.
Blinder, A. (2017). Ex-Officer Who Shot Walter Scott Pleads Guilty in Charleston. www.nytimes.com. Retrieved 22 April 2018, from https://www.nytimes.com/2017/05/02/us/michael-slager-walter-scott-north-charleston-shooting from https://www.nytimes.com/2017/05/02/us/michael-Slager-Walter-Scott-north-charleston-shooting.html
Muftić, L. R., & Hunt, D. E. (2013). Victim precipitation: Further understanding the linkage between victimization and offending in homicide. Homicide Studies, 17(3), 239-254.
McNeeley, S. (2015). Lifestyle-routine activities and crime events. Journal of Contemporary Criminal Justice, 31(1), 30-52.
Legewie, J., & Fagan, J. (2016). Group threat, police officer diversity and the deadly use of police force.