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Mistrial Verdict in Walter Scott Killing by Police Sparks Anger, Outrage

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‘A Legal Lynching’

Black Community and Supporters of Justice Outraged After Former Police Officer Who Shot and Killed Walter Scott Handed Mistrial Verdict by South Carolina Jury – Despite Video Evidence

After hours of deliberation, shocking video of the incident recorded by a bystander, and testimony that at times was contradictory from the former police officer’s charged with the murder who fired the fatal shots, a South Carolina jury deadlocked. Eleven were ready to convict, but one juror, identified only as a 50 year-old male, who has been quoted as saying he “cannot in good conscience consider a guilty verdict.” 

For Black Americans the declared mistrial is yet in another of a long line of missteps by the American justice system which disenfranchises them. It reinforces the principle that Black people’s daily encounters with police more often than not end in harassment, violence or death: Their lives don’t seem to matter, even when they’re being taken in front of millions of viewers.

It was a routine traffic stop in April of 2015 which quickly spiraled out of control. The white, North Charleston, SC police officer, 33-year old Michael Slager, had pulled 50-year old Walter Scott, a Black father of four, over for a broken ‘third brake light’ on the Mercedes Benz he was driving. The interaction between the two men escalated after Scott got out of his car and fled. Then in the version initially supplied to the public and media by North Charleston authorities, it was stated that Slager gave chase on foot, a physical altercation broke out, and Slager used lethal force to defend himself.

However, within three days an eyewitness came forward. A piece published by The Post & Courier newspaper on April 12, 2015, described what happened next: 

“On foot, Slager followed Scott down Craig Road, past a window-tinting shop and a lot behind a pawnshop. To their right was a chain-link fence with barbed wire. At an opening in the fence, Scott turned right, and so did Slager. At least one witness saw the pursuit.

Feidin Santana was on the alley-like road that paralleled the vacant lot. He took that route every day he went to work at a nearby barbershop. When he saw the pursuit, he decided to follow them. He heard the zapping sound of the Taser. He would later tell reporters that Scott seemed to be trying to get away from the Taser.

He pressed record on his cellphone. He twisted it sideways, and then steadied it as Michael Slager, a few yards away, pulled his Glock 21 from his holster.”

Santana, who initially was too frightened to release the video eventually went to a local media outlet which then broadcast it, and posted it online causing it to go viral.

The evidence revealed on Santana’s cellphone video was crystal clear: It graphically showed that Slager opened fire on Scott at a distance, striking him repeatedly in the back. Scott was unarmed and contrary to Slager’s statements given to investigators afterwards, Scott did not have possession of the officer’s Taser. In fact, Slager appeared to toss the device on the ground next to Scott moments after shooting him.

Within hours of the video’s release, Slager was fired, arrested and charged with murder.

One prominent member of the Black North Charleston, South Carolina community where the Scott killing took place, speaking confidentially to NCRM, referred to the mistrial as yet another miscarriage of justice, “a legal lynching.” 

He pointed out the December 3, Editorial Board of The New York Times editorial in the paper’s Sunday Review section to further illustrate his point.

The Times‘ board, writing about a supplement to the study, “Lynching in America,” released by the Equal Justice Initiative, had stated:

“The time when African-Americans were publicly hanged, burned and dismembered for insisting on their rights or for merely talking back to whites is nearer in history than many Americans understand. The horror of these crimes still weighs heavily on black communities in the South, where lynching memories are often vivid. The anguish is made worse by the realization that some of the killers are still alive and may never be prosecuted.”  

“This is no different.” he told NCRM. “The mentality that fostered the environment in American society which allowed for the Black community to be terrorized by lynching back then continues today by allowing for the police to be able to shoot black men with impunity.” 

While he acknowledged that although the jurors, eleven white and one Black, were considering both murder and manslaughter charges against Slager, the problem was that one juror. Even though his eleven other peers decided that the actions were unlawful, the holdout obviously didn’t view Slager’s actions as criminal.

“That is the attitude – right there, it’s in front of him and he still does not see the crime – it’s because it’s just another Black criminal and a cop trying to do his job. There’s no real change. This is the same mindset that there’s always been. What about next time? Maybe it will be two or three jurors.”

Prosecutors have stated that they will retry the case, an announcement that has been met with skepticism in the Black community in North Charleston and elsewhere.

Lecia Brooks, director of outreach for the Southern Poverty Law Center responded, telling NCRM:

“This is a case where an unarmed black man pulled over for a faulty brake light was fatally shot while running away. It is obvious to anyone who sees the video that Walter Scott posed no threat to the officer involved. We don’t believe that justice has yet been done and we are glad that the state of South Carolina isn’t giving up.”

In statement released Monday, South Carolina’s Republican Governor Nikki Haley expressed her faith in the system and applauded the prosecutor’s decision. 

“It is my understanding that there will be, as quickly as possible, a new trial where the Scott family and all of South Carolina will hopefully receive the closure that a verdict brings,” Haley wrote. “Justice is not always immediate, but we must all have faith that it will be served – I certainly do. I urge South Carolinians – in Charleston and across our state – to continue along the path we have walked these last two years: a path of grace, faith, love and understanding. That is who we are, and who I know we will continue to be.”

 

Brody Levesque is the Chief Political Correspondent for The New Civil Rights Movement.
You may contact Brody at Brody.Levesque@thenewcivilrightsmovement.com 

Image: Screenshot via ABC News/Twitter 

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News

‘Can Be Used Against You’: Trump Took Big Risk Pleading the Fifth 400 Times in Deposition Says Legal Expert

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A newly released video shows Donald Trump pleading the Fifth Amendment hundreds of times in a deposition, and a legal expert explained how that could be used against him in court.

The former president was finally hauled in to testify last year in the $25 million fraud lawsuit filed against the Trump Organization by New York attorney Letitia James, and he exercised his constitutional right against self-incrimination nearly 450 times — but MSNBC legal analyst Andrew Weissmann said the move carried potential risk in a civil case.

“I agree with him on the point of taking the Fifth,” Weissmann said. “It’s important to remember everyone has a right to the Fifth if a truthful answer would tend to incriminate you. In a civil case, it can be used against you, unlike in a criminal case.”

“One other thing I would disagree is when he is saying there’s this witch hunt, he left out jurors,” Weissmann added. “The Trump Organizations went to trial, they had their day in court. They could present all of their evidence, [and] 12 jurors, that’s everyday citizens, found beyond a reasonable doubt that there was a multi-year tax conspiracy that his organizations were involved in, and there was evidence he knew about it as would make sense. That’s one more reason for him to be asserting the Fifth Amendment.”

Watch video below or at this link.

Image via Shutterstock

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News

Stefanik Was Once ‘Laser Focused on Electing Santos’ – Now She Blames Voters for Electing Him as She Backs Away

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One of the most powerful Republicans in the House of Representatives, U.S. Rep. Elise Stefanik (R-NY), used her reputation and geographic proximity to help get fellow New York Republican George Santos elected to Congress. But now, as her donors and his express anger at being misled and lied to, and ahead of what appears to be a likely federal investigation and possible prosecution against the freshman GOP lawmaker, Stefanik is blaming voters for electing him to Congress: “Ultimately voters make this decision,” she said Tuesday.

Stefanik is the Chair of the House Republican Conference, a role she was first elected to when the now former Congresswoman, Liz Cheney, was thrown out of GOP leadership for telling the truth about the January 6 insurrection and Donald Trump. Stefanik was re-elected to her role after the November election.

Amid Santos announcing on Tuesday he is temporarily recusing himself from the two committees he was appointed to, Stefanik was asked if she regretted supporting his candidacy.

Indeed, one of the top reasons Santos was elected was Stefanik’s endorsement – and all the donor money that came with it.

READ MORE: 2024 Fundraising Fail: Trump Took in Less Money After Declaring Run for President Than Before

“Stefanik’s team was laser focused on electing Santos to Congress – more than just about any other race in the country,” a senior Republican strategist involved in campaigns before the midterms told CNN. “Another donor, who attended a fundraising luncheon with Stefanik and Santos, confirmed to CNN through a representative that ‘he donated to George Santos because of Elise Stefanik’s endorsement.'”

It wasn’t just her endorsements. It appears Stefanik took great interest in getting Santos elected. CNN also reported that a source “said that a top political aide for Stefanik was involved in campaigning for Santos. Multiple sources told CNN that aide was closely advising Santos’ campaign and involved in hiring people.”

Stefanik’s spokesperson denied the allegations.

In July, Santos tweeted that Stefanik “has been one of my strongest backers and closest friends. I fully stand with her vote today as she stood up for civil rights. I look forward to serving alongside her when I’m elected to Congress in November.”

In fact, this was the banner atop Santos’ Twitter account for a very long time, up until recently:

Here is Stefanik tweeting her “major announcement” – her endorsement of Santos – on August 11, 2001, more than a year before Election Day.

READ MORE: ‘Ran a Bribery Center Blocks From the White House’: Comer Mocked for Claiming No Evidence of Trump Influence Peddling

“Excited to endorse my friend and fellow America First conservative George Santos for Congress in #NY03. @Santos4Congress will take on NYC liberal elites and bring a new generation of GOP leadership to NY and America. He has my full support!”

And in May of last year: “WOW! Great lunch event for @Santos4Congress! We raised over $100,000 to help George FLIP #NY03 George has my complete and total endorsement and come November, New Yorkers will send George to Congress! #SaveNewYork #SaveAmerica”

She literally told voters that electing George Santos to Congress will “Save New York” and “Save America.”

On Tuesday, Stefanik told voters something very different: it’s their fault they voted for him, she said, taking no responsibility for her endorsements.

“Like all of my colleagues, particularly in New York State, I supported George Santos as the nominee, and the people of his district voted to elect him,” she told reporters – not once mentioning there was no Republican primary and Santos automatically became the Republican party’s nominee.

READ MORE: Listen: Stefanik-Endorsed GOP Candidate Praised ‘Inspirational’ Adolf Hitler as ‘The Kind of Leader We Need Today’

“Ultimately voters make this decision about who they elect to Congress,” Stefanik declared, wholly removing herself, her endorsements, and any possible assistance she or her campaign may have given to Santos or his campaign.

See the tweets and video above or at this link.

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BREAKING NEWS

Santos Recuses Himself From Committees Amid Possible Criminal Investigation

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Embattled freshman U.S. Rep. George Santos (R-NY), in what is the first time he has taken any steps to acknowledge the depths of political and now possibly criminal challenges he faces, says he will recuse himself from his committee assignments until his ethics issues have been resolved.

Santos also told his Republican colleagues of his plans on Tuesday, NBC News reports. Santos is on the Science and Small Business committees.

The Daily Beast’s Roger Sollenberger, who has provided extensive reporting on the Republican frequently called a “serial liar,” adds that the Santos’ announcement came after a meeting with Speaker Kevin McCarthy.

“With all signs pointing to an active federal criminal investigation into his campaign finance activity, Santos has ‘voluntarily’ declined—after meeting last night with Kevin McCarthy—to stay off of committees, as Republicans try to sideline Ilhan Omar,” Sollenberger reports.

READ MORE: DOJ Signals It Is Conducting a Criminal Investigation of George Santos

Sollenberger broke the news that Santos, or his campaign, amended his FEC filing to indicate $625,000 in “personal” loans to his campaign were not actually from his personal funds.

Republicans are trying to keep U.S. Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN), one of their regular, prime targets, from taking her seat on the Foreign Affairs Committee. Speaker McCarthy has already blocked Democratic Congressmen Adam Schiff and Eric Swalwell from the House Intelligence Committee, invoking his ability to do so because it is a Select committee and subject to the Speaker’s decisions.

MSNBC reported the breaking news on-air. Watch below or at this link.

This is a breaking news and developing story. Details may change.

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