Posted by Emily VanSchmus
On Tuesday, April 7, Walter Scott was pulled over in North Charleston, South Carolina for a broken tail light. Half an hour later, he was dead.
Scott was shot eight times by North Charleston Michael T. Slager and remained facedown on the ground without any medical attention for several minutes before he was pronounced dead. The video of his death was posted online by The New York Times later that evening.
Slager was charged with murder that evening, although he claimed Scott had stolen his taser and he feared for his life. The video shows the officer picking up what could be a taser from a few yards away and placing it near Scott’s body.
The question at hand is whether the video should have been posted on the internet. On one hand, it shows a human losing their life, which can be insensitive to family and friends as well as hard to watch. On the other hand, there was so confusion around the recent Ferguson shooting because no one actually knew what happened. A video like this could stop the public from speculating and let them see what actually happened.
I stumbled across the article late Tuesday night after it popped up on my ‘suggested news’ section on Facebook. I wanted to read the article, so I opened the page on the Times website. I saw a video at the top of the page, and it had been a long day, so I figured I could just watch the newscast about the event rather than reading a long article.
Immediately, my screen showed a young black man running from a police officer as the officer shot him several times. I was shocked – I had not planned to watch a man die right in front of me and didn’t feel that I was well informed about what the video would actually show. I wondered if the Times would remove the video or change the way it was presented, but as of 5:00 Wednesday evening they had not.
Poynter published an article Wednesday morning stating that posting the video was justified. It was also released that the bystander who filmed the incident gave the video footage to Scott’s family, who gave it to their lawyer, who then gave it to the Times.
Read more about Poynter’s decision: http://www.poynter.org/how-tos/visuals/333613/graphic-new-york-times-video-seems-justified/
Would you have posted this video online?
If so, would you have placed the story lower on the page, left out the section where Scott is shot, included a warning message for viewers or done anything else differently?