We extend deepest heartfelt sympathy to Walter Scott’s family and stand in solidarity with them as they seek justice for his murder. It is long past time to end the wave of terror against men of color in the U.S. The punishment for traffic violation is not death. Police officers are sworn to serve and protect … not to act as judge and jury in the street. We can start with S.C Rep. Gilliard’s body camera legislation. We should also release internal affairs records of proven police misconduct and reform tort laws to make it easier to obtain civil judgments against cities that retain officers known to violate citizens’ right to due process and equal protection under the law. During the darkest days of this nation’s history thousands of blacks were lynched by angry mobs emboldened by federal complacency. We commend the U.S. Dept. of Justice for its investigation into the patterns and practices of discrimination in Ferguson and issue an urgent call for a similar probe of the courts and police of North Charleston
Update: In the days since the statement above was written, other civil rights violations by this same officer have come to light. This is what we meant by “patterns and practices” and what is necessary to prove to hold the city accountable for police misconduct. After all, if Walter Scott’s death is a crime, then his employer (the city) may not be liable. No employer is liable for the crimes of its employees on the theory that no employer sanctions or encourages any employee to break the law. On the other hand, if the city of North Charleston/employer was on notice of the officer’s proclivity to behave improperly and took no action, then civil liability for damages would be appropriate. There is much more to this incident than meets the eye. –Rev. Jesse Jackson Sr.