North Charleston, SC– Dashcam footage was released on Monday of the officer charged with murder for killing Walter Scott. The video shows Michael Slager tasering someone during a traffic stop in August of last year.
The man being tased, 35-year-old Julius Garnett Wilson, has since filed a lawsuit against Slager and the North Charleston Police Department. Garnett states that his civil rights were violated and is urging any others who may have had a similar experience to come forward and do the same.
Wilson had been stopped simply because it was a “high crime area” and was asked to step out of the vehicle when the officers believed that he had a suspended license. He initially refused to comply, as he reportedly had a valid Georgia license. At this point, an officer reaches into the vehicle and unbuckles Wilson’s seatbelt. Wilson went to reach for his cell phone, and the officer pulled out his gun causing Wilson to freeze.
Wilson is then thrown to the ground as officers jam their knees into his back. “Back up, I’m going to tase,” Slager yells before tasing the man who is face down on the ground. More video was later recovered from Wilson’s broken phone as well.
“He almost got shot; I’m not lying,” an officer says on the footage, The Post and Courier reports. “But he advised I was being recorded. I said, ‘Cool; you are, too.’ ”
Wilson is the second person to speak out this week about the alleged excessive force used by Officer Slager prior to the murder of Scott. The first was 34-year-old Mario Givens, who claims that he was tased by Slager for no reason in 2013. His encounter unfortunately was not captured on video.
The incident took place in the middle of the night, as Givens was awakened by Officer Slager banging on his door, yelling “Come outside, or I’ll tase you!” This indicates he was going to use the weapon as a punishment, instead of as a necessary method to gain compliance and protect himself in a dangerous situation.
“I didn’t want that to happen to me, so I raised my arms over my head, and when I did, he tased me in my stomach anyway,” Givens told the Associated Press. “They never told me how they reached the conclusion. Never. They never contacted anyone from that night. No one from the neighborhood.”
The department has a long record of abuse lawsuits itself. In one particularly bad incident, Sheldon Williams claims that he was asleep at a motel when officers burst through the door. After handcuffing him, the officers allegedly began taking turns stomping on his face, causing injuries so severe that the jail officials had to turn him away to be seen by a doctor. He was left with a fractured cheekbone, a depressed fracture to the left orbital floor of his face, and a fracture on his left sinus wall.
The hospital provided law enforcement with instructions to have him see a surgeon within a week, but the instructions were ignored, and Williams was never treated. He now has trouble sleeping and faces long-term neurological damage. None of the officers accused of assaulting Williams were terminated from the force.
Over the past five years, officers in South Carolina have fired on suspects 209 times, few have been charged, and none have ever been convicted of wrongdoing.
The North Charleston Department, which is in a town that is 47% black, has 80% white officers and has been sued 46 times since 2000 in federal court alone.
At a press conference last week, Slager’s alleged previous victim, Mario Givens, stated, “What came to my mind is if they had tried to listen to me that man might have been alive, because he wouldn’t have been an officer in the field.”