The above-embedded Associated Press video captured the moment last Wednesday when South Carolina Republican Governor Nikki Haley signed S 47 into law, a bill requiring all police in the state to wear body cameras.
Governor Haley signed the bill alongside family members of Walter Scott, an unarmed African-American man who was fatally gunned down by North Charleston, SC Police Officer Michael Slager during an April 4 traffic stop over a malfunctioning taillight. Slager has since been fired and charged with murder over his role in the tragedy.
According to The Post and Courier, the bill grants state law enforcement agencies a nine month grace period to obtain state funding and implement the body cameras. WYFF-TV notes that it also provides funding for the cameras and prohibits the footage taken by them from being obtained by the public through a Freedom of Information Act request.
The Cato Institute’s Matthew Feeney wrote, “Among those permitted to access police body camera footage [under the South Carolina law] are: the subjects of a body camera footage, criminal defendants, civil litigants, and attorneys representing any of these people.”
The bill was introduced in December of 2014, but failed to gain traction until Walter Scott’s highly-publicized officer-involved death in April of 2015.
Said Governor Haley at the bill’s signing ceremony, “What did happen was we saw a sad tragedy, we saw a good man die when he didn’t have to, and we saw a few amazing things happen — we saw everybody step up and say, rather than being victims to this, we’re going to lift everyone up and make the state better, and that’s why this is a proud day. That’s why this is a good day, because this was about saying we don’t ever want a day like that to happen again… This is going to strengthen the people of South Carolina, this is going to strengthen law enforcement, and this is going to make sure that Walter Scott did not die without us realizing we had a problem.”
“I’m sure my brother is looking down and saying: ‘Good job. Good job, South Carolina,’” said Walter Scott’s brother Anthony Scott, according to The Aiken Standard.
Said Democratic State Senator Gerald Malloy of the law, “It is a great day in South Carolina, because we become the first state in the country that has a requirement for all law enforcement to end up wearing these body cameras.“