A speedy investigation that led to the arrest this week of Patrolman 1st Class Michael T. Slager was the “exception rather than the rule,” the Charleston branch of the NAACP alleged during a news conference Thursday morning.
The rally at the organization’s headquarters on Columbus Street was attended by dozens of local and national media as well as community members.
Dot Scott, the organization’s president, took the opportunity to thank authorities for taking “swift action” to charge the former officer with murder. But she questioned whether that would have been the case had video of the shooting not surfaced.
“Would there have been an indictment, or would there have been a cursory investigation where Mr. Scott was painted as a criminal, where the officer’s version of what happened would have been accepted as truth, and where there would have been no murder charge,” she asked, reading from a statement.
Dot Scott called for the formulation of a citizens’ review board to prevent “officers from policing other officers” when complaints are issued.
The widespread use of body-worn cameras would also help in that regard, she said, and would “make it easier for the many good law enforcement officers to do their jobs.”
The news conference came a day after North Charleston Mayor Keith Summey announced that the city bought 150 cameras to complement the 101 it had already ordered through a state grant.
When asked whether a fully outfitted patrol force in North Charleston would prompt other agencies in the tri-county area to follow suit, Dot Scott replied that had that been the goal of local law enforcement they would have done so already. Also, she said, proposed legislation on the issue wouldn’t have been met with resistance.
Dot Scott alluded to her as a North Charleston resident when she said the city has a long history racial profiling.
If 10 people were stopped, you can bet, she said, that nine of them were African-American males.
She conceded that crime rates have fallen in the city in recent years. North Charleston racked up 55 killings between the start of 2006 and the end of 2007. That led to Washington-based CQ Press ranking North Charleston among the Top 10 most-dangerous cities in the nation. The city fell off of the list by 2010.
Dot Scott alleged, however, that racial profiling and abuse contributed to those improvements. The means, she said, didn’t justify the end.
“Mr. Scott’s death shows what happens when racial profiling yields the worst possible result,” she said.
Reach Christina Elmore at 937-5908 or at Twitter.com/celmorePC.