Posted March 24, 2008 – Dashboard cameras in police cruisers, designed to back up police accounts of traffic stops, have exposed a shockingly ugly practice by some South Carolina troopers – using cars to mow down Black men.
Federal investigators said late last week that they are reviewing videos showing South Carolina Highway Patrol officers ramming their vehicles into fleeing suspects.
In one of the disturbing videos, for example, Lance Cpl. Steven Garren, a white trooper, chases an African-American man, who’s running along a roadside at night. The officer rams the suspect, who is catapulted into a field next to the road. Garren was suspended for three days, but he’s appealing, arguing that he didn’t mean to hit the man. That argument is contradicted by his comments, which were captured on the dash camera: “Yeah, I hit him,” he tells his partner. “I was trying to hit him.”
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In the other incident, Lance Cpl. Alexander Richardson is so determined to run his Black suspect down that he doesn’t let anything stop him, including a small child and his father, as he drives his cruiser through the heart of an apartment complex – across sidewalks, a courtyard and around buildings. At one point he’s able to bump the suspect, who keeps running. A few moments later, the young Black man he’s chasing finally surrenders. For his actions, Richardson got a reprimand and was told to take a stress-management course.
"I've reviewed some of the videos, and based on that review, felt that it was appropriate to have our office involved," said Kevin McDonald, acting U.S. attorney for South Carolina, according to The State newspaper in Columbia , S.C.
As BET.com reported in February, Highway Patrol Col. Russell Roark and Public Safety Director James Schweitzer resigned last month after dash-cam videos showed another trooper calling a Black man a “nigger.”
“You better run nigger,” then-Lance Cpl. Daniel C. Campbell is heard saying after he apprehends a perp. “I’m fixin’ to kill you!”
For that episode of displaced anger, Campbell was given a two-day suspension and told to undergo anger-management and diversity training.
Gov. Mark Sanford says the officer should have been fired.
Was the two- to three-day suspensions enough, or do you think there is a more fitting punishment? Click "Discuss Now" to post your comment.