Palmetto Sunrise: Walter Scott shooting spurs nationwide body camera debate

Philadelphia Police officers demonstrate a body-worn cameras being used as part of a pilot project in the department's 22nd District, Thursday, Dec. 11, 2014, in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)

The fatal shooting of Walter Scott has reignited a nationwide debate about requiring police to wear body cameras, reaching the White House and the front page of The New York Times.

White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest said Wednesday that the case is a “good example” of the impact the cameras could have. And the Times, in a front-page story today, called the cellphone footage of the North Charleston shooting “perhaps the starkest video yet” of police tactics that have been called into question.

North Charleston Mayor Keith Summey weighed in on that debate Wednesday, saying the city — South Carolina’s third-largest — would buy enough cameras to equip every patrolling officer.

It will join Columbia, the state’s biggest city, in making its cops wear cameras. Charleston Mayor Joe Riley said he’d like to buy more cameras, and Greenville is considering using them, too.

Earnest emphasized Wednesday that the White House has put up $75 million for departments looking to buy cameras. But yet to be seen is whether the shooting will spur lawmakers in Columbia and Washington to pay for more or require their use.

The state-level debate could get underway as soon as next week, when the General Assembly returns from a holiday break. Supporters of two bills that would require officers in South Carolina to wear body cameras have said Scott’s death highlights their necessity. So far this year, the bills have failed to move out of committee.

Further coverage...

North Charleston has long struggled to strike a balance public safety and civil rights.

The city’s response has been far different than Ferguson, Missouri’s, which has helped officials keep peace, observers say.

Several people gathered Wednesday at City Hall and the field where Scott died to protest the shooting and hold a vigil.

The shooting video is shocking, but securing a conviction can be complicated, experts say.

Prominent defense attorney Andy Savage will defend ex-officer Michael Slager.

In other news...

U.S. Rep. Mark Sanford signaled that he might oppose using seismic air guns to search for oil under the sea floor after saying earlier he didn’t object to the practice.

The Edisto River is one of the five most-endangered rivers in the U.S., an environmental advocacy group says.

Presidential candidate Rand Paul, who will visit the Charleston area today, won’t say what exceptions, if any, he’d support if abortions were to be outlawed.