Would a Police Body Camera Have Saved Walter Scott?

Written by Mark O'Mara on . Posted in Opinion

I'm haunted by the video of Officer Michael Slager firing eight shots at Walter Scott as he fled his encounter with North Charleston police -- his back turned to the officer. What I find more disturbing is how the officer cuffs the fallen Scott and allows him to die face-down in the dirt while Slager appears to plant an item next to his body.

Throughout the entire encounter with Scott, it's clear Slager had no idea someone was filming him. Had he known there would be video of his every move, would he have drawn his weapon on a fleeing man? Would he have fired? Eight times? Would he have misrepresented the encounter on his police report?

Of course not. If Slager had been wearing a body camera, Scott would probably still be alive, and Slager wouldn't be facing the possibility of life in prison -- or a possible death sentence.

Body cameras are expensive to deploy, sure. And storing the massive amounts of data that body cameras create costs even more. That cost, however -- if we're talking the monetary kind -- may be eclipsed by the punitive damages delivered to Scott's family in an inevitable civil suit against the North Charleston Police Department. Most importantly, we have to ask ourselves this: What's the value of a human life? Certainly it's worth the price of some mass data storage.

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