A black civil-rights lawyer walked away from a Fox News interview in reaction to a black minister’s insistence that conclusions shouldn’t be drawn about South Carolina police officer Michael Slager’s killing of Walter Scott before the case has been fully investigated and the officer has received due process of law.
“For you to come on this show as a black man and … somehow justify this shooting. You are an embarrassment to the world right now. The whole world is looking at how stupid you are,” civil rights lawyer Leo Terrell told his fellow guest on the Fox News show “Hannity” on Thursday.
The other guest was Rev. Jesse Lee Peterson, founder of BOND, the Brotherhood Organization for a New Destiny.
The argument heated up to the point that Terrell ripped off his earpiece and walked away from the camera.
“I’m done. I’m done,” he said.
See the interview:
A much-viewed iPhone video of the incident in South Carolina appears to provide no justification for the officer shooting the fleeing, unarmed suspect.
But according to new reports, including a CNN report, one witness to the encounter claimed there was a scuffle between Scott and Slager.
The witness, Gwen Nichols, told CNN: “It was like a tussle type of thing, like, you know, like, ‘What do you want?’ or “What did I do?’ type of thing. I didn’t hear Mr. Slager saying: ‘Stop!'”
According to the officer’s dashcam video, Slager stopped Scott over a taillight, then Scott fled from his vehicle. The bystander’s video shows the officer shooting repeatedly at a fleeing Scott. It also indicates the officer doctored the evidence, apparently dropping something close to the inert Scott.
But what happened in between, according to the CNN report, could be significant.
“Defense attorneys will say this was a heat-of-passion shooting – [that] this was something that he did suddenly after some kind of an altercation, a physical altercation with a suspect,” criminal defense attorney Paul Callan told CNN. “And that would constitute manslaughter under law, as opposed to murder, and it makes a huge difference in sentencing.”
Slager already has been fired from his department and charged with murder.
Peterson was arguing both with Hannity and Terrell that due process is paramount, and there could be evidence that hasn’t been revealed yet.
CNN confirmed that Scott owed $18,000 in child support, and there was a bench warrant out for him for failure to pay, leading analysts to suggest he could have been in fear of being jailed over the issue.
Jim Bueermann of the Police Foundation in Washington said whatever the circumstances, “I guarantee you that they do not teach to shoot a fleeing unarmed man in the back.”
To Peterson’s question about what happened before the videoed shooting, Hannity said, “There’s never a justification … for what I see on that video.”
Peterson said, “We as American citizens owe it to the officers to give the benefit of the doubt until we can get all the information.”
Terrell jumped in, declaring “Jesse Lee Peterson is the only man on the face of the Earth talking about everything else other than the unlawful shooting of this man. The Supreme Court has said you cannot shoot a (sic) unarmed person.”