The Edmund Pettis Bridge, constructed in 1939, carries U.S. Highway 80 over the Alabama River in Selma, Alabama. On March 7th, 1965, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and over 500 civil rights activists conducted a peaceful march across the bridge. Dr. King’s message was simple, but effective: Peaceful advocacy for equal rights for all Americans. Unfortunately, many Americans at the time, including the police, were unwilling to listen. Dr. King and his followers were met by hordes of policemen, who beat the marchers with clubs. 17 people were hospitalized on that “Bloody Sunday.”
Years later, police brutality has moved to the forefront of our country’s most heated debates. Public outrage has boiled over into violent conflicts. Angry protests have sprung up in major U.S. cities, yet the number of police shootings seems to be never-ending. Cell-phones, which are owned by nearly every American, are the tools by which these horrific incidents are surfacing. They have documented the grisly details, the circumstances in which people are beaten or killed by police.
One of the most recent police brutality tragedies to occur took place in North Charleston, South Carolina. On April 5, 2015, Patrolman Michael Slager pulled over 50-year-old Walter Scott after his taillight was out. Somehow, Scott managed to flee from the scene after Slager began walking over to his car. Slager chased him down behind a pawn shop in North Charleston.
A cell phone video from an onlooker captured a sickening sequence of events. The video shows Scott in a brief scuffle with Officer Slager, then running away from him. Officer Slager then drew his sidearm pistol and fired it eight times at Scott’s back. After being riddled with bullets, Scott crumpled to the ground and lay there motionless. He died before EMTs could arrive.
Police initially alleged that Slager had been protecting himself because Scott had taken his tazer away from him. In the video, however, that claim is clearly refuted; Slager dropped the tazer on the ground once he stood next to Scott’s body.
When asked about the incident, Slager allegedly laughed and said that his “adrenaline was pumping.”
If you or a loved one have suffered injuries stemming from an incident with police, please call our Massachusetts personal injury advocates. Call us, 24/7, at 617-787-3700.