Before the video of the fatal shooting of Walter Scott surfaced, the police officer's version of the shooting was all authorities had to go on while investigating Scott's death. But after the video was provided to news organizations by the Scott family attorney, it changed everything. Officer Michel T. Slager was charged with murder, and officials said the video was the "turning point" in the case, The Washington Post reported. Still unknown Tuesday night, however, was the answer to the question: Who took the video?
At a press conference Tuesday night, Walter Scott's brother Anthony praised the actions of the still-anonymous bystander. "If there wasn't a video, would we know the truth? Or would we have just gone with what was reported earlier?" he asked. "Had this witness not showed the courage, would we be standing here?" It wasn't clear if the Scott family's attorneys or any members of the family know who filmed the actions that led to Scott's death. Also unknown Tuesday was whether the person who filmed the shaky cell phone video of the shooting knew either the officer or Scott himself. During the entire four minutes, the bystander kept filming, despite the possibility they could have been in potential danger themselves.
It's early to say whether the video will be able to be used in any court setting, if the case against Slager moves forward, but authorities apparently felt it was enough evidence to bring charges against him. However, it's worth noting that the video of Eric Garner being held in a fatal chokehold was not enough to bring charges against a New York City police officer, even though Garner can be heard saying "I can't breathe" over and over.
It's hard to watch the video of Walter Scott, or Eric Garner, and especially hard to watch the video of 12-year-old Tamir Rice, which appears to show him being shot by two police officers last year in Cleveland. But as the Scott family's attorney, Chris Stewart, said at the press conference Tuesday, seeing the video changed the course of the investigation.
What if there was no video? What if there was no witness, or hero as I call him, to come forward? Then this wouldn't have happened. But somebody was watching.