School Resource Officer and Richland County Senior Deputy Ben Fields was fired on Wednesday, after a video that showed him assaulting a female student in a classroom at Spring Valley High School went viral on Monday.
During a press conference at noon on Wednesday, Sheriff Leon Lott said that Fields was terminated from the Richland County Sheriff’s department for violating policy and not using the proper techniques to arrest a student.
“Once he put her hands on her, he was allowed to do that,” Lott said. “He placed her under arrest, he verbally told her that she was under arrest, he attempted to use force to make the arrest.”
Lott explained that the “maneuver” used by Fields in which he flipped the student out of her desk and then threw her across the classroom, was not one that was taught in law enforcement training.
“That’s what caused me to be upset when I first saw that video, and what continues to upset me when I see that video, is the fact that he picked the student up and he threw the student across the room,” Lott said.
“That is not a proper technique and should not be used in law enforcement, and based on that, it is a violation of policy and approximately 20 minutes ago, school resource officer Ben Fields was terminated from the Richland County Sheriff’s department.”
Lott also said, however, that the student “was very disruptive” and disrespectful.
“We must not lose sight that this whole incident was started by this student. She is responsible for the initiation of this action. There is some responsibility falls on her. The action of our deputy, we take responsibility for that. But we also have to put responsibility on her,” he said.
Videos of the incident were released on Monday, and Lott requested that the FBI and the DoJ begin an independent investigation into Fields’ actions at Spring Valley High School. Federal authorities confirmed on Tuesday that the agencies have opened a civil rights probe into the arrest to determine if federal law was broken.
During a news conference on Tuesday, Lott said that in order to make a decision about Fields’ employment, the department needed to look at the whole picture.
“That’s not fair to fire somebody immediately when you have a snapshot of something. You have to do the investigation and get all the facts,” Lott said. “Again, from one snapshot, we saw one video that showed one thing, and then we get another video that shows her actually punching him.”
Lott said the department obtained an additional video showing the student punching Fields during the confrontation. However, that video has not been publicly released.
The South Carolina deputy who is under investigation after videos circulated online showing him assaulting a female student in a classroom has a history of violence, according to a man who said he was assaulted by the officer in 2005.
Carlos Martin, a 36-year-old Army veteran, told New York Daily News that he filed a lawsuit against Ben Fields, the officer identified in the videos, after he was allegedly assaulted by Fields on Oct. 24, 2005.
Martin said that he had recently moved to Columbia, South Carolina, and was working at the Moncrief Army Community Hospital at Fort Jackson.
Fields, who had been responding to a separate complaint at the apartment complex Martin resided in, reportedly confronted Martin about playing loud music in his car.
Martin told the New York Daily News that an argument ensued, and Fields “snapped” after Martin called him “dude,” and slammed Martin on the ground.
Martin said Fields went on to use pepper spray on him and ended up using the entire can, which Martin said he was able to resist because of his military training. “He became even more violent because I didn’t react like most people would,” Martin explained.
Martin also said that his wife at the time, Tashiana Rogers, witnessed the assault, and came to the scene to take pictures with her cellphone. Martin claimed Fields told his partner to “get her black ass,” and the officer responded by taking Rogers’ phone and deleting the pictures.
Martin said that although he filed a lawsuit against Fields, and criminal charges against Martin and Rogers were ultimately dropped, it took four years for Martin’s case to go to trial. During that time, he was labeled as a criminal in the military. The lawsuit was eventually dropped due to lack of evidence of excessive force.
Richland County Sheriff Leon Lott announced on Monday that he requested the FBI launch an independent investigation into Fields’ actions at Spring Valley High School. Federal authorities confirmed on Tuesday that both the FBI and the DoJ have opened a civil rights probe into the arrest to determine if federal law was broken.
Officials in South Carolina are calling for a federal investigation after cell phone video showed a police officer throwing a Spring Valley High School student out of her desk and dragging her across the classroom.
Multiple videos were taken by other students in the classroom of the encounter between the white male officer and a black female student. The videos begin by showing the officer walking up to the girl and telling her to get up and leave the classroom. Shortly after speaking to the girl, the officer is seen putting her in a chokehold and flipping her desk over while she is still sitting in it as he attempts to remove her from it.
Leon Lott, the Richland County sheriff, said that the officer, a deputy with the sheriff’s department, was responding to a disruptive student refusing to leave the classroom.
“The student was told she was under arrest for disturbing school and given instructions which she again refused,” Lott said. “The video then shows the student resisting and being arrested by the SRO.”
Lott said he was “as upset as anybody and I’m very disturbed by what I saw,” and he has contacted the FBI to request an independent investigation into the incident.
“Appropriate action is going to be taken,” Lott said. “We’re going to do it as quick as possible. This isn’t something that’s going to linger on for weeks, or months or even days. It’s going to be done very swiftly.”
The New York Times reported that Spring Valley High School is “a campus of about 2,000 students that is about 52 percent black and 30 percent white,” and that while officials have not released the names of either of the officer or the student, multiple students identified the officer as Ben Fields, a deputy who is assigned to the school.
One student who filmed the altercation, 18-year-old Niya Kenny, said she was also arrested for “disturbing schools” due to her reaction to the officer’s confrontation with the student.
“I was screaming ‘What the f, what the f is this really happening?’ I was praying out loud for the girl,” Kenny said. “I just couldn’t believe this was happening I was just crying and he said, since you have so much to say you are coming too. I just put my hands behind my back.”
Kenny said the student was asked by the teacher to leave the classroom for not participating. Kenny said when the student refused, an administrator was called in followed by the resource officer. Regarding the use of force by the officer, Kenny said she had never seen anything like it before.
“I know this girl don’t got nobody and I couldn’t believe this was happening,” Kenny said. “I had never seen nothing like that in my life, a man use that much force on a little girl. A big man, like 300 pounds of full muscle. I was like ‘no way, no way.’ You can’t do nothing like that to a little girl. I’m talking about she’s like 5’6″.”
A shorter video, seen below, shows the physical confrontation from a more direct angle following the verbal interaction.
A Kentucky Deputy Sheriff is being sued by the parents of two children with disabilities, who are claiming that he traumatized their children by handcuffing them for acting out in school in relation to their disabilities.
A video released by the American Civil Liberties Union, in connection with the Child Law Center, shows Deputy Sheriff Kevin Sumner at a school in Covington, Kentucky, placing handcuffs on the arms of an 8-year-old boy. Because the boy’s hands are too small to fit, Sumner places the handcuffs on the boy’s biceps, forcing his hands behind his back, while he cries out in pain.
The boy, who is identified in the lawsuit as S.R., has attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and a history of trauma. A 9-year-old girl, identified as L.G., is also mentioned. The lawsuit claims that she has been handcuffed twice, and that she has ADHD and other special needs.
WKYT reported that students with disabilities “make up 12 percent of the student population, but are 75 percent of the students who are physically restrained by adults in their schools,” and that minority students with disabilities are often “punished and pushed out” instead of being given educational and counseling services. In this case, S.R. is Latino and L.G. is African American.
In each of the three incidents in which the children were handcuffed in fall 2014, the lawsuit claims that there was “no imminent danger of physical harm to the child or to anyone else” that required Sumner to place handcuffs on the children and to subject them to “unnecessary and excessive handcuffing” that resulted in “pain, fear and emotional trauma, and an exacerbation of their disabilities.”
S.R.’s mother, T.R. told WKYT that she has her son was traumatized by the incident. “It’s hard for him to sleep, he has anxiety, and he is scared of seeing the officer in the school,” T.R. said. “School should be a safe place for children. It should be a place they look forward to going to. Instead, this has turned into a continuing nightmare for my son.”
Lisa Thurau, executive director of Strategies for Youth, a national nonprofit organization that trains school resource officers, told the New York Times that cases such as one where a federal judge in New Mexico “ruled that the use of handcuffs on a 7-year-old with autism was permissible,” are an example of the way courts are increasingly upholding the use of handcuffs on children.
“This is an example of two worlds colliding,” Thurau said. “The state department of education says use the least restrictive treatment possible, the least use of force, and special consideration for children with special needs. But then police come in, and they are untrained, and judges are validating the use of force.”
Kim Tandy, executive director of the Children’s Law Center, noted that Kentucky’s school personnel are prohibited from using restraints to punish children or to force behavior compliance. “These regulations include school resource officers,” Tandy said. “These are not situations where law enforcement action was necessary.”
The lawsuit also names the Kenton County Sheriff’s Office and Sheriff Chuck Korzenborn, charging them with the “responsibility of establishing policies, practices and training for school resource officers,” such as Sumner.
Two University of Cincinnati police officers who arrived on the scene when former officer Ray Tensing shot Samuel DuBose during a routine traffic stop, will not face charges for corroborating Tensing’s false claims of being dragged by DuBose’s vehicle.
After officers Phillip Kidd and David Lindenschmidt were placed on paid administrative leave while the university investigated, the Hamilton County grand jury announced on Friday that it will not indict the officers for charges related to DuBose’s death.
DuBose, 43, was shot and killed by Tensing, 25, after Tensing pulled DuBose over for driving without a front license plate on July 19. While Tensing claimed that he opened fire because he feared for his life after his hand was caught on DuBose’s vehicle, and DuBose started accelerating, footage from the body camera Tensing was wearing revealed that his hand was placed on the car door and that DuBose’s vehicle only started moving after Tensing shot DuBose in the head.
In addition to showing that Tensing’s story was false, the body cam also revealed that after arriving on the scene, Kidd and Lindenschmidt were quick to accept Tensing’s narrative, with Kidd going as far as to say that he had witnessed DuBose’s vehicle dragging Tensing down the street.
The same grand jury that chose not to indict Kidd and Lindenschmidt, indicted Tensing for murder in the death of DuBose on Wednesday. Hamilton County Prosecutor Joe Deters called the shooting “totally unwarranted” and said it was the “most asinine act” he had ever seen a police officer make.
However, in the case of Kidd and Lindenschmidt, Deters said that although they initially repeated Tensing’s false account without witnessing it, since then they “have been truthful and honest about what happened and no charges are warranted.”
“These officers were totally cooperative in the investigation and consistent in their statements,” Deters said. “There was some confusion over the way the initial incident report was drafted, but that was not a sworn statement by the officers and merely a short summary of information.”
In addition to initially covering up the DuBose shooting, Kidd was also one of seven officers named in a lawsuit in the death of Kelly Brinson, 45, a mentally ill man who died at Cincinnati’s University hospital in 2010. Brinson was taken to a seclusion room after suffering a psychotic episode, and was shocked with a taser three times and restrained by shackles. As a result, Brinson went into cardiac arrest and died three days later.
Tensing, who has pleaded not guilty to charges of murder and involuntary manslaughter, was involved in another heated traffic stop in May 2014 after he pulled two men over claiming that their bumper was dragging.
University of Cincinnati police officers Eric Weibel and Phillip Kidd, who repeated the false narrative of former officer Ray Tensing after he shot and killed Samuel DuBose during a routine traffic stop, were involved in the death of another unarmed black man in 2010.
Weibel and Kidd were two of the seven officers named in a lawsuit, according to court documents obtained by The Guardian, in the death of Kelly Brinson, 45, a mentally ill man who was a patient at Cincinnati’s University hospital.
The Guardianreported that after suffering a psychotic episode in Jan. 2010, Brinson was taken to a seclusion room at the hospital by UC officers and was then shocked with a taser three times and restrained by shackles. As a result, Brinson went into cardiac arrest and died three days later.
Brinson’s family filed a civil lawsuit against both UC police and the hospital, alleging that the seven officers involved used excessive force and acted with “deliberate indifference to the serious medical and security needs of Mr. Brinson.”
Accusing the officers and hospital staff involved of civil right violations, malpractice, discrimination and negligence, the lawsuit notes that Brinson was a civilian hospital patient, not a criminal, and that the only drugs in his system at the time were psychiatric medications prescribed by the hospital staff.
Derek Brinson, Kelly Brinson’s brother, toldThe Guardian that while all of the officers involved in the case were supposed to be terminated, they ended up keeping their jobs after Brinson’s family received a settlement of $638,000.
Five years after Brinson’s death, Weibel and Kidd have been involved in the case surrounding the death of another unarmed black man: Samuel DuBose.
As Truth In Media previously reported, former UC officer Ray Tensing was indicted for murder on Wednesday in the shooting death of DuBose, 43, after body camera footage contradicted Tensing’s account. In addition to showing that Tensing’s story was false, the body cam he was wearing also showed that the officers arriving on the scene were quick to repeat Tensing’s false account, even going as far as to say that they witnessed it occurring.
While Tensing initially claimed that he shot DuBose during a routine traffic stop because he feared for his life after his hand was caught in DuBose’s car, which began to accelerate, dragging Tensing down the street, the footage from Tensing’s body cam directly contradicted his account.
After reviewing the footage, Hamilton County Prosecutor Joe Deters noted that while DuBose did put his keys in the ignition of the car, it did not start rolling until after Tensing pulled out his gun, shot DuBose in the head, and then fell backwards.
The Guardianreported that in the UC police division report, authored by Weibel, he does not say anything about witnessing the shooting, but he did write that the uniform Tensing was wearing “looked as if it had been dragged over a rough surface,” and the report overall supports Tensing’s account.
Weibel also wrote that Kidd told him he witnessed the Honda Accord DuBose was driving “drag Officer Tensing,” and that he witnessed Tensing “fire a single shot.”
Kidd and another officer on the scene, David Lindenschmidt, who both claimed to have witnessed Tensing being dragged down the street by DuBose’s car, have been placed on paid administrative leave and an internal investigation is being conducted.
University of Cincinnati Police Officer Ray Tensing was indicted for murder on Wednesday in the shooting death of Samuel DuBose, after body camera footage contradicted Tensing’s account.
Tensing, 25, pulled over DuBose, 43, for a missing license plate on the front of his car on July 19. Following the shooting, Tensing told his fellow officers that he fired his gun because he feared for his life after his hand got caught on DuBose’s car, and he thought DuBose would run him over.
“I think I’m OK,” Tensing said after the incident, according to his body cam recording. “He was just dragging me. I thought I was going to get run over. I was trying to stop him.”
However, the footage from Tensing’s body cam appears to directly contradict his story. At a news conference on Wednesday, Hamilton County Prosecutor Joe Deters noted that while DuBose did put his keys in the ignition of the car, it did not start rolling until after Tensing pulled out his gun, shot DuBose in the head, and then fell backwards.
“It is our belief that he was not dragged,” Deters said. “If you slow down this tape you see what happens, it is a very short period of time from when the car starts rolling to when a gun is out and he’s shot in the head.”
CNN noted that while Tensing left the scene with another officer to go to the hospital to get checked out, the footage from the body cam “shows no one rendering aid to DuBose.”
Deters called the incident “totally unwarranted,” and said he believes Tensing’s false report was his way of “making an excuse for a purposeful killing.”
[quote_center]“I’ve been doing this for over 30 years. This is the most asinine act I’ve ever seen a police officer make – totally unwarranted,” Deters said. “It’s an absolute tragedy in the year 2015 that anyone would behave in this manner. It was senseless.”[/quote_center]
Deters also noted that while “people want to believe” that DuBose, who was unarmed, “had done something violent towards the officer,” video footage from the scene shows that he did not. “I feel so sorry for his family and what they lost, and I feel sorry for the community, too,” Deters said.
Following the shooting, The Guardiannoted that in addition to Tensing giving his account of events to other officers arriving at the scene, two of those officers repeated Tensing’s version, claiming he was dragged by DuBose, and one of the officers “claims to have witnessed it occurring.”
The Associated Press reported that during Tensing’s arraignment on Thursday morning, where he pleaded “not guilty” to charges of murder and involuntary manslaughter, “people in the courtroom audience erupted into cheers and clapping” when Tensing’s bond was set at $1 million.
A Cleveland municipal court judge ruled on Thursday that there is probable cause to charge two Cleveland police officers in the death of 12-year-old Tamir Rice. Rice was shot and killed by police on Nov. 22, 2014, while he was playing with a pellet gun at a park in Cleveland.
Judge Ronald Adrine issued a ruling that stated he found probable cause to charge Officer Timothy Loehmann, who shot Rice, with “murder, involuntary manslaughter, reckless homicide and dereliction of duty,” and he also found probable cause to charge a second officer on the scene, Officer Frank Garmback, with “negligent homicide and dereliction of duty.”
Adrine noted that although the municipal court determined that “complaints should be filed by the prosecutor of the City of Cleveland and/or the Cuyahoga County prosecutor,” the court’s role is only “advisory in nature,” and it is ultimately up to the City Prosecutor to “decide to issue felony complaints in the Cleveland Municipal Court based upon his acceptance of the court’s determination that there is probable cause to believe certain accusations found in the affidavits posted against these Patrol Officers.”
The New York Times reported that county prosecutor, Timothy McGinty, released a statement in response to the court’s ruling, indicating that he would not be “rushed into filing a criminal complaint.”
“This case, as with all other fatal use-of-deadly-force cases involving law enforcement officers, will go to the grand jury,” McGinty said. “That has been the policy of this office since I was elected. Ultimately, the grand jury decides whether police officers are charged or not charged.”
As Truth In Media previously reported, the family of Tamir Rice filed a lawsuit on Jan. 30, stating that Rice’s death and subsequent injuries suffered by his family were “directly and proximately caused” by officers Loehmann and Garmback.
While the city of Cleveland’s response noted that it was unable to respond in full due to the ongoing investigation, it did cite 20 defenses, with one including the allegation that Rice’s death was caused by his failure to “exercise due care to avoid injury.”
In April, attorneys for Loehmann and Garmback asked a federal judge to halt a lawsuit filed against them, until the criminal investigation into their actions has been completed. In response, Rice’s family filed a motion on May 4, in objection to the request, stating that delays in the lawsuit will hurt their case.
While Adrine’s ruling claimed that the video surveillance from the incident was low in quality, it does acknowledge the fact that after Rice is shot, nearly four minutes pass where he is left lying on the ground, and when his sister arrives on the scene, she is “restrained from going to her brother’s side.”
The video shows Rice’s 14-year-old sister rushing to her brother’s side, and then being thrown to the ground, handcuffed, and placed in a police cruiser by Garmback. She is then forced to wait in the cruiser, and to watch while police stand around, without attempting to provide any first aid to her brother.
“This has to be the cruelest thing I’ve ever seen,” said Walter Madison, an attorney for the Rice family, who called the video “shocking and outrageous.”
Sisters Andria (8) and Zoey Green (7) attempted to run a lemonade stand on Monday, near their home in Overton, Texas, when they were reprimanded by a local police officer for operating their stand without a permit.
The girls told CBS 19 that they started the lemonade stand as a way to raise money to take their dad to Splash Kingdom for Father’s Day, and that they were “doing just fine until the cops came.”
While Overton Police Chief Clyde Carter told CBS 19 that the girls “cannot just get over there and make lemonade and have it for sale on the side of the road without permits,” he also said that he is not aware of the reason behind the rule.
The permit is required by Texas House Bill 970, which mandates that the “sale of food which requires time or temperature control to prevent spoilage” is prohibited without a “Peddler’s Permit.”
On Wednesday, Carter released the dash cam footage from the officer’s stop at the lemonade stand. When the officer asked if the girls had a permit from the city to run the stand, Sandi Evans, the girls’ mother, said she didn’t know they needed one.
“For a lemonade stand? I had no clue,” Evans said. “I knew we had to for garage sales and stuff like that, but I didn’t know little kids had to for a lemonade stand.”
Overton Police told KLTV that following the exchange, a family friend went to Overton City Hall to obtain a Peddler’s Permit for the girls. While the city was willing to waive the $150 fee, staff members would not let the Green sisters obtain a permit until they contacted the health department and an inspection was conducted.
KLTV reported that the girls are planning on setting up another stand on Saturday, but instead of charging for lemonade, they will give it away for free, and will accept donations.
A South Carolina grand jury indicted former police officer Michael Slager on Monday for the murder of 50-year-old Walter Scott. Slager fired eight shots at Scott’s back as Scott ran away from him following a traffic stop in North Charleston on April 4.
The video, which was captured on a bystander’s cellphone, showed a different narrative of the shooting than what Slager originally reported.
An initial statement from Charleston police spokesman Spencer Pryor claimed that during a routine traffic stop, in which Slager pulled Scott over for a broken taillight, Scott fled the scene, and Slager “deployed his department-issued Taser in an attempt to stop him.” When that did not work, the statement claimed that “an altercation ensued as the men struggled over the device,” and that Slager “resorted to his service weapon” and shot Scott, only after Scott “gained control of the Taser” and attempted to use it against Slager.
In contrast, the video of the shooting, filmed by 23-year-old barber Feidin Santana, shows a different scene.
Warning: The following video contains graphic content.
The video of the shooting that was taken by Santana appears to show Slager running back to the initial scene of the altercation, picking up his Taser, and then running back to Scott, dropping the Taser next to Scott’s body.
Following the release of the video from the shooting, the State Law Enforcement Division of South Carolina released a video from the dash-cam in Slager’s car. The video shows Slager approaching Scott’s car, and notifying him that he is being stopped for a broken taillight. After speaking with Scott, Slager returns to his car, and moments later, Scott jumps out of his car and started running away.
While the dash-cam video does include the audio of the moments when Slager attempted to stop Scott with a Taser, it does not show video footage of the two, and it does not include the moments when Slager pulls out his gun and begins to shoot at Scott.
The Associated Press reported that Prosecutor Scarlett Wilson said that although Slager has been jailed without bond since his arrest, and faces 30 years to life in prison, if convicted, the death penalty does not seem to apply in this case because there were “no aggravating circumstances such as robbery or kidnapping as required under South Carolina law.”
Baltimore Police Lieutenant Brian Rice, the officer who initially pursued 25-year-old Freddie Gray after Gray “caught his eye” and then took off running, has been involved in previous incidents that resulted in his suspension and the confiscation of his guns, according to a recent report.
Gray, who was chased by Baltimore Police and then arrested for allegedly carrying an illegal knife on April 12, suffered a severe spinal injury and died in police custody on April 19.
State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby announced on Friday that Gray was arrested illegally, and ruled his death a homicide. Six officers were charged, and then released on bonds ranging from $250,000 to $350,000 the same day.
Rice was one of the six officers charged in Gray’s death, and his charges include one count of involuntary manslaughter, two counts of second degree assault, two counts of misconduct while in office, and one count of false imprisonment.
The Baltimore Sun noted that Rice was hired by the Baltimore Police Department in 1997, was promoted to lieutenant in 2011, and reported an annual salary of about $88,000 in 2014.
In April 2012, Rice was “given an administrative suspension after being hospitalised for a mental health evaluation” when he threatened to shoot himself, and he was disciplined by the department when a temporary restraining order was filed against him by his ex-girlfriend’s husband, according to a report from The Guardian.
Andrew McAleer, the husband of Karyn McAleer, who is Rice’s ex-girlfriend and the mother of his young son, was granted a restraining order against Rice in Jan. 2013. To obtain the order, Andrew McAleer, who is a firefighter in Baltimore, filed a 10-page complaint citing a “pattern of intimidation and violence.”
The full document was first published by The Guardian, and in it, McAleer claims that he is filing an order against Rice for threats of violence, harassment, stalking, and trespassing.
[pull_quote_center]”Within the last 30 days, an event occurred initiated by Brian Rice that has caused me to have constant fear for my personal safety from Brian Rice,” wrote McAleer. “The January 19, 2013, incident and a pattern of harassment, stalking, trespassing, and serious threat of bodily harm by Brian Rice with a concealed Glock handgun that he is authorized to carry by Baltimore City Police Department are detailed in the plea for protection.”[/pull_quote_center]
McAleer described the incident on Jan. 19, 2013, as a final straw, after Rice’s patterns of harassment began in March 2012. He said that his wife, who is also a Baltimore police officer, was at work, and he was “conducting personal errands” while their children were home alone. McAleer said that when he returned home, he stepped out of his car and Rice’s Hyundai Sonata immediately pulled into the driveway.
According to McAleer’s complaint, the fact that Rice pulled up right after McAleer did, made McAleer fear that Rice was stalking him. McAleer said Rice got out of his car, started waving his arms and yelling something unintelligible, and then got back in his car and began to rev his engine, flash his headlights, and inch his car towards McAleer, before pulling out of the driveway.
The Guardian reported that Rice was suspended and his weapons, including his personal 9mm handgun, two rifles and two shotguns, were initially confiscated in April 2012, after an emergency call was made reporting that he had threatened to shoot himself, and that he was put on administrative suspension once again, with his guns confiscated, after McAleer was granted a week-long peace order.
Washington D.C.- An attorney for one of six Baltimore police officers charged in connection with the death of Freddie Gray has requested in court permission to examine a knife that police say they found on Gray after they pursued him April 12.
In court papers, police who arrested Gray stated that he was found with a “spring-loaded switchblade” in his right-front pants pocket. Under Maryland law, that switchblade is illegal. Officers say they found the knife after Gray made eye contact with one of the officers and began running. Officers chased him down and while taking him into custody say they found the knife.
When State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby announced the charges against all six of the officers involved in Gray’s arrest, she stated that the knife found on Gray was not a switchblade and that it was in fact, a legal knife. She described the arrest as illegal.
The officer’s defense attorney, Marc L. Zayon, says in the filing in state District Court that he thinks the knife “was not lawful” and that a charge placed against Gray was appropriate.
Meanwhile, the attorney for the Gray family, Jason Downs has also requested to see the knife in question. In an interview with Ben Swann, Downs says that the family has a number of questions about the knife, if Gray even had it on him and what kind of knife it was. Downs says that his team has not been allowed to even see the evidence of the knife’s existence.
Two videos portraying events from the “traffic stop gone wrong” that ended when Walter Scott, a 50-year-old unarmed black man was shot and killed by Michael Slager, a 33-year-old white police officer in North Charleston, South Carolina, have shed light on multiple errors in Slager’s initial report.
The shooting occurred on Saturday morning, and it wasn’t until Tuesday that a video, which was taken on a bystander’s cell phone, was released. The video showed Slager firing eight shots at Scott, as Scott ran away. Following the release of the video, Slager was charged with first-degree murder.
Think Progress reported that “charges against South Carolina police officers for shooting someone are extremely rare,” and that it appears that during the two days between when the shooting happened and when the video was made public, Slager appeared to be “unaware that video of the entire incident existed.”
On Saturday, the Charleston Post and Courier reported that North Charleston police spokesman Spencer Pryor released a statement, claiming that “a man ran on foot from the traffic stop and an officer deployed his department-issued Taser in an attempt to stop him,” then when that did not work, “an altercation ensued as the men struggled over the device.”
The statement also claimed that Slager “resorted to his service weapon” and shot Scott, only after Scott “gained control of the Taser” and attempted to use it against Slager.
On Monday, the Charleston Post and Courier reported that Slager’s lawyer, David Aylor, released a statement, which closely resembled the statement from the North Charleston police, regarding Slager’s account of the incident.
Aylor said that Slager “thinks he properly followed all procedures and policies before resorting to deadly force.”
“When confronted, Officer Slager reached for his Taser — as trained by the department — and then a struggle ensued,” Aylor said. He went on to explain that Slager “felt threatened and reached for his department-issued firearm and fired his weapon,” when Scott “tried to overpower Officer Slager in an effort to take his Taser.”
Think Progress noted that if the video of the incident had not surfaced, “that’s where the story might have ended,” as shown by a study conducted by The State, which found that police in South Carolina “have fired their weapons at 209 suspects in the past five years” but none were convicted, and the prosecutor “ruled all the shootings were justified.”
The video of the shooting, which was taken by Feidin Santana, a 23-year-old barber who immigrated to the US from the Dominican Republic, was made public on Tuesday.
Warning: The following video contains graphic content.
On MSNBC’s All In with Chris Hayes, Santana said that he considered erasing the footage, because he was worried that if he release it, his life could be in danger.
“I felt that my life, with this information, might be in danger. I thought about erasing the video and just getting out of the community, you know Charleston, and living some place else,” Santana said. “I knew the cop didn’t do the right thing.”
Santana explained that he chose to release the video to Scott’s family, after he read the news reports about the shooting. He said, “It wasn’t like that, the way they were saying.”
In Slager’s account of the incident, he said he “felt threatened” by Scott, and only resorted to shooting Scott, after he claims that Scott reached for his Taser. The video of the shooting that was taken by Santana, appears to show Slager running back to the initial scene of the altercation, picking up his Taser, and then running back to Scott, and dropping the Taser next to Scott’s body.
On Wednesday, Arthur Aidala, a legal analyst for Fox News, said that in his experience, in the 1980’s and 90’s, the practice of police officers “planting a weapon” on a victim was “standard operating procedure,” and that police officers “would keep a second gun that nobody knew about on their ankle, so if they ever killed someone they shouldn’t have they would take that gun out and leave it.”
The State Law Enforcement Division of South Carolina released a video from the dash-cam in Slager’s car on Thursday. The video shows Slager approaching Scott’s car, and notifying him that he is being stopped for a broken taillight. After speaking with Scott, Slager returns to his car, and moments later, Scott jumps out of his car and started running away.
While the dash-cam video does include the audio of the moments when Slager attempted to stop Scott with a Taser, it does not show video footage of the two, and it does not include the moments when Slager pulls out his gun and begins to shoot at Scott.
The incident involving Scott is not the first time Slager has been involved in an altercation. On Thursday, The Guardian reported that Mario Givens, a black man from North Charleston who filed a complaint about excessive force against Slager in 2013, announced that he intends to sue the city’s police department. In his complaint, Givens said that Slager knocked on his door around 4 a.m. in Sep. 2013, and without giving a reason for the visit, demanded that Givens put his hands up. He said that he complied, but Slager proceeded to use a Taser on him.
The Charleston Post and Courier reported on Thursday, that the Scott family’s lawyer, Chris Stewart, has confirmed that the family plans to file a federal civil rights lawsuit against Slager.
Ben Swann discussed the shooting and what led up to it with on RT America, RT Correspondent Manuel Rapalo, who was reporting from outside City Hall in North Charleston, South Carolina:
Last week, KSL-TV reported on a horrifying incident in Salt Lake City during which an Uber driver named James Brothers was randomly held at gunpoint by an erratically-behaving passenger who asked him with slurred speech, “Do you want to live or die?” The incident took place late at night on October 19th.
“Well, I want to live, of course,” said Brothers. He told KSL-TV, “Thoughts are going through my head as to what I need to do, and I just thought, ‘I’m going to bail because I’m not going to sit around and wait for what’s going to happen.'” He grabbed his cell phone, ripped his keys from the ignition, and jumped out of his vehicle. The menacing passenger grabbed Brothers’ shirt as he fled, but the Uber driver slipped away and called 911.
The suspect, who had begun to ask Brothers about his family prior to pulling the gun on him, turned out to be 44-year-old Byron Keith McDonald of Texas. According to CBS KUTV-2, McDonald is a federal police officer with the Bureau of Indian Affairs, a sub-agency of the Department of the Interior charged with managing US land held in a trust for Native American tribes. At the time that he allegedly pulled his gun on Brothers, Lieutenant McDonald was traveling on official business for the BIA.
Brothers picked up McDonald and three others at a bar. McDonald, who appeared inebriated, got into an argument with the other three passengers, and, when Brothers dropped them off at a party, McDonald asked to be taken separately to a Hilton hotel. When they arrived at the Hilton, McDonald allegedly pulled his gun on Brothers.
On October 20, McDonald was arrested and charged with third-degree felony aggravated assault. According to Salt Lake County District Attorney Sim Gill, surveillance video corroborates Brothers’ allegations. Gill told CBS KUTV-2, “We know that his superiors are aware of what’s going on… We don’t care whether you are a police officer, whether you are a rich person, poor person. It doesn’t matter what your status is. If you commit a crime and we have evidence to support that, we’re going to treat you like anybody else.” McDonald remained in jail for 5 days before posting bail.
Nedra Darling, a spokesperson for the Department of the Interior, issued the following statement about the incident, “Mr. McDonald was on official travel at the time of the incident… The incident is being investigated by our internal affairs division, which will make use of the investigation being conducted by the Salt Lake City Police Department.”
In comments to CBS KUTV-2, Brothers reacted to the fact that the person who pulled a gun on him turned out to be a federal law enforcement agent, “These are the individuals that [we] look up to for protection.” Though he was shaken up by the incident and no longer picks up passengers at night, Brothers continues to drive for the popular rideshare service Uber.