NORTH CHARLESTON, SOUTH CAROLINA – The video was enough to put a police officer behind bars and charge him with murder, but it doesn’t tell the whole story.
In an exclusive interview with NBC, Feidin Santana, the man who recorded it, fills in some of the gaps.
“They were down on the floor before I started recording,” said Santana.
He says officer Michael Slager seemed to have control over victim Walter Scott.
“You could hear the sound of the taser. I believe he was just trying to get away from the taser.”
Many are calling Santana a hero for filming the shooting, and a grassroots organization out of Austin is encouraging everyone to follow suit.
The Peaceful Streets Project wants to bring some power back to the people, by filming police activity.
“Particularly the homeless, the mentally ill or communities of color, and for them often times all the chance they have of justice is if someone captures everything on video that allows them to be exonerated, and on rare occasion for the police officer to be held accountable,” said the group’s founder, Antonio Beuhler.
Although Beuhler says ‘cop watching’ is a step in the right direction, he stresses there is so much more work to be done in communities across the country.
“For us to actually drive real change, we need social change. We need the consciousness of Americans to change where we don’t simply accept that it’s not happening to us.”
Police like to tell us, ‘If you see something, say something.’
Let’s change that mantra to, ‘If you see something, record something.’
Houston police say they have no problem with that.
“We 100% welcome everyone videotaping all of our encounters with police officers,” said Joseph Gamaldi, second vice president of Houston Police Officers’ Union, “we want everyone to videotape, we have absolutely nothing to hide.”
That being said, will the thought of being recorded cause officers to second-guess themselves when it’s time to use lethal force?
“I don’t think wearing a body camera or being recorded is going to change any officer’s response to how they do their job every single day.”
Harris County Sheriff Adrian Garcia agrees.
“It just goes on to determine the value of body cameras, and so we will continue to move forward on that program.”
Body cameras won’t fix all our problems overnight, but it’s progress.