It was with great anger that I read the article from the NY Times discussing a South Carolina man who was fatally shot by a police officer after being pulled over for a broken taillight on his vehicle. As Walter Scott the driver was outside the vehicle, a scuffle ensued. Certainly we would expect the officer to use that force necessary. However, due to video captured by a bystander, Mr. Scott is seen running away, when Officer William Slager fires multiple shots at him when he is at least 15-20 feet away. What is captured on video next is terrible.
The officer approaches Mr. Scott see that he has been wounded, handcuffs him, but then walks back to where the vehicle was, picks up his Taser gun and drops it right at the foot of a dying Mr. Scott. This, he hoped, would be his alibi that he feared for his safety and that Mr. Scott had used the Taser on him and fled with it.
Officer Slager is being charged with murder.
The brazen acts of this officer are both shocking and upsetting. It reminded me of the matter in which my firm, Leav & Steinberg, LLP is representing the Estate of Eddie Fernandez who was killed by NYPD Office McClain in August 2012. At that moment, Eddie was riding away on his dirt bike, when officer McClain, who had already used his police vehicle to strike one dirt bike rider, makes a U-turn and crosses into oncoming traffic and strikes the back of Eddie’s dirt bike with his vehicle. Clearly using his vehicle as a deadly weapon. Eddie died as a result of the very serious injuries sustained. A young man, who had taken care of his mother was gone. The distraught family has sought criminal and civil charges against Officer McClain and also Federal Civil Rights violations against the officer and the NYPD.
The story needs to be told over and over as police are using their badge and power as a deadly weapon when they see fit. Thankfully, like the tragedy in South Carolina, the events of Eddie Fernandez were caught on video surveillance.
The CCRB (Civilian Complaint Review Board) is still investigating Officer McClain and a final determination of his punishment is still pending.
As a father, lawyer and human being, I feel that families of Eddie Fernandez and those others who have been seriously injured as a result of the excessive force of the Police must rise up, join together, share their story and most importantly seek civil remedies which can hopefully change the police and practice of the police.
The link to news story of video showing Eddie Fernandez killed by NYPD.