South Carolina Rep. James Clyburn, the third-top Democrat in the U.S. House of Representatives, says he is "really saddened" but "not surprised" by the shooting death of Walter Scott by former police officer Michael Slager. Members of law enforcement who engage in police misconduct must be held accountable, he said in an interview on MSNBC's Andrea Mitchell Reports, or such tragedies will continue.
Unaware that a witness was recording him with a cellphone camera, Slager appears to have tried to alter the circumstances surrounding the deadly altercation and it is not certain that he would have been charged with first-degree murder without the recording. That is exactly why Clyburn advises young people to keep their cellphones charged – one never knows when they will need that camera.
“I've advised young people, keep your cellphones tuned up, keep the battery charged and don't hesitate to turn them on when you see things happening that's unbecoming or you think may cross the line," he said. "I think that we are going to have to do more of this, because I think that's what it's going to take for police officers to really think twice before pulling their weapons."
Clyburn also dismissed accusations that he plays the race card in his response to this and other tragedies in which police officers have killed unarmed African-Americans.
“I'm not playing the race card — I think that what is happening in too many of these instances, is that these perpetrators are playing the race card,” he said. “We're just responding to what they're doing.”
He added that the time has come to stop making excuses for their actions and start holding them accountable because "that's all that's going to be required to make this thing right."
Follow Joyce Jones on Twitter: @BETpolitichick.
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