The Murders of Walter Scott and Eric Courtney Harris: No Peace In Death’s Valley

(Randall Hill/Reuters)

Eddie Bryan gathers his thoughts during funeral services for Walter Scott.

When 50-year old Walter Scott was stopped for a non-functioning brake light on April 4th, I’m sure he didn’t expect to become another symbol of extreme use of force from police among African-Americans. Scott’s primary concern was his child support dilemma turning up when his information was pulled, explaining why he fled his vehicle.

Scott’s 33-year old assassin gave no thought to run down an unarmed man — who was just tasered and slow afoot. He found it easier to fire eight rounds, striking his target five times. The assassin in his call to dispatch states Scott took his taser which led to him to feel threatened and mortally wounding his fleeing assailant.

The Devil is a lie.

Before deciding to literally run for his life, Walter Scott probably went through a mental checklist which would buy him a few more hours before the law would eventually catch up to him for being in arrears for child support. Unarmed? Check. Didn’t reach for any weapon? Check. Running AWAY from an armed law enforcement official? Check.

What Scott didn’t take into account was his assassin thinking no one would be filming the final moments of his life. Further giving the public a paralyzing glimpse into what happens when rouge law enforcement officials take the law into their own hands without the thought of an unseen eye.

What happened in the moments and hours after the shooting are even more harrowing. As Scott lies prone, hands behind his back with five bullet wounds, (After being shot, the assassin can be heard telling Scott to put his hands behind his back) Clarence Habersham, a African-American male officer approaches with no sense of urgency to the situation and after applying rubber gloves appears to either check Scott’s wounds or his pockets for weapons. A few feet away the once-fired taser is planted a believable distance from Scott’s body. The submitted police report states that CPR was performed on Scott, the video shows nothing remotely close to aid being given. The assassin later joked about how he was still on an adrenaline high after the shooting with a senior officer.

Until Feidin Santana came forward with his camera video of the incident, the only thing having life breathed into it was an uninterrupted practice of African-Americans dying at the hands of law enforcement with families being left to sort their loved one’s final moments.

Time is getting short if we live in a day where 73-year old men are allowed to play fantasy cop. The death Eric Courtney Harris has been ruled an excusable homicide by the attorney for rent-a-deputy Robert Bates.

What I find inexcusable is a law enforcement official who has participated over 100 times in police activity and completed the required training can mistake a service weapon for a taser. Harris fled from Tulsa police on April 2nd after he was tackled by Bates a struggle ensued and moments later you hear Bates’ weapon discharge. Bates almost immediately says, “I shot him, I’m sorry.” As several officers converge on an already wounded Harris, they pin him to the ground — notably with an officer’s knee near his head.

Harris exclaims several times that he has been shot, you can overhear an officer reply, “You f*ckin’ ran motherf*cker. Shut the F*ck up!!!” Then in what were his final words, Harris says, “Oh my God, I’m losing my breath!”

“F*ck your breath!” the officer replied.

After an undercover weapons sting and foot chase it had been revealed that Harris was unarmed.

I remember in the days and weeks after the murder of Eric Garner shirts bearing his last words, “I Can’t Breathe” were worn from everyone from politicians to world-class athletes. Of course there was a certain demographic of the population who wore shirts saying, “I Can Breathe”. I can’t help that was the mindset of these sub-humans who smothered a man to death.

F*ck your breath hits like a megaton bombs when it lands on the ears of a dying man.

Excuses for the officers include a “slip and capture” which means someone means to do one thing and does something else, the officers were experiencing “audio exclusion” which prevented them from hearing the gunshot although they were running toward Harris and Bates and finally the language used was a product of stress and should have any bearing on whether the shooting was justified. Harris family was asked to not seek an attorney with hopes that the story would go away. Bates faces a second-degree manslaughter charge.

Silence from opposing whites in the days after the death of Walter Scott was not surprising.  Neither was their sudden awakening when the police cam showed Scott fleeing his vehicle as if they’re looking for a reason to say Walter Scott or anyone after him deserves to die.

How many innocent Black men and women have died on the side of a dark road or in broad daylight at the hands of assassins who were under the impression no one else was watching and in the aftermath produced a one-sided account along with a supportive crime scene?

For years families have wondered what were the last words and actions of loved ones who were upstanding people to those who knew only to be given an unrecognizable identity by people who can’t get past the eye test.

If you have a darker hue, always remember, you’re not dead until your reputation is shredded and thrown in the ground with you.

Regardless of the atrocities we face, Stockholm Syndrome seems to find its way into our psyche. Whether it’s a grieving family who seeks to immediately forgive their transgressors or the coonish behavior of those who believe ultimately selling out will cause them to ease up on the lashings.

Belief in a post-racial America could very well cost us our lives. We aren’t race baiters, just the catch.

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