SC Legislators Unanimously Pass Body Camera Bill to Prevent Police Brutality
After the horrible murder of Walter Scott was filmed and released to the press, South Carolina has been the focus of a huge police brutality scandal. North Charleston police officer Michael Slager was caught shooting Walter Scott, who was unarmed and running away, in the back, then planting his gun on the victim and handcuffing his hands behind his back.
According to SLED investigations, 21 people were shot and killed by police officers last year across South Carolina. While many suspects can get violent, and police officers put themselves in danger every day, state legislators are trying to do something to stop and prevent police brutality.
Senator Gerald Malloy, D-Darlington, introduced a body camera bill in December, largely in response to other states’ issues with police brutality and excessive force – including the now infamous incident in Ferguson, Missouri. On Wednesday morning, April 15th, the South Carolina senate committee unanimously passed the body camera bill.
During subcommittee hearings regarding the anti-police brutality measure, most witnesses spoke out in favor of body cameras, including police officers. They say that the cameras will not only keep officers in line, if they believe they are being watched, but the cameras will also help officers prove that a certain amount of force was needed in cases of especially violent suspects. Footage from these cameras can be used in trials not only involving police brutality, but in criminal trials to prove that a suspect was armed, dangerous, had drugs, etc.
Victims advocate groups and others expressed concerns over privacy, including using the Freedom of Information Act to obtain the footage, but most seemed to agree that the body cameras would help stop police brutality. Others expressed concerns for the cost to the tax payer – the total cost to equip South Carolina’s law enforcement would be $21 million for the first year, plus $12 million per year after that.
The Columbia Police Department purchased a few body cameras in 2012 as an experiment to see how the devices worked for officers, but many believe that the cameras have done little to change law enforcement officers’ actions. In addition, officers must remember to turn the devices on, wear and operate them properly, and do nothing to obstruct the devices’ view.
Still, most agree that the cameras will do more than other measures to prevent police brutality deadly incidents.
“If officers always do right, then we got that on video,” said Patrolman Zack Adams, who uses a body camera while on duty every day.
The Strom Law Firm Supports the Body Camera Bill to Prevent Police Brutality and Defends Victims of Police Brutality
Police brutality can be difficult to define, especially if you are a suspect involving in criminal charges. However, regardless of what you have been arrested for, you still have the right to be treated with respect, and you should not be the victim of a brutal beating, shooting, excessive use of a Taser gun, or sexual assault. South Carolina can prevent police brutality with the right tools.
The South Carolina personal injury attorneys at the Strom Law Firm can help victims of police brutality in civil court. Contact us today. 803.252.4800