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“The Last Moments Michael Slager Looked Like A Good Cop”: Then He Revealed His True Self; Someone Who Never Should’ve Been A Cop

On the dash cam video, the commercial radio in the squad car can be heard playing the chorus of “What It’s Like” by Everlast as Officer Michael Slager pulls over the Mercedes driven by Walter Scott on the morning before Easter.

Then you really might know what it’s like

Then you really might know what it’s like

The line is repeated twice more, and this song by a white rapper serves as a soundtrack of eerie irony as the cop strides evenly up to the driver’s side.

Slager reaches the back of the Mercedes and gives it a tap with his right hand. That is a standard cop move to prompt a driver to look back through the rear windshield as you continue to approach on the blind side. You are suddenly there at the driver’s window as he turns back.

“Can I see your license, registration, and insurance card?” Slager can he heard asking.

The cop’s tone and bearing are professional. Scott says something about his neighbor.

“What’s that?” Slager asks.

Scott tells the cop that his neighbor has the insurance card.

“I got my license,” Scott says.

“OK, let’s start with your license,” Slager says.

Slager keeps with department policy for officers to explain to motorists why they have been stopped.

“The reason for the stop, sir, is your brake light’s out,” Slager says.

Scott seems to say something about the indicator on the instrument panel.

“Right there,” Scott says.

“OK,” Slager says.

The dash cam video shows that the right rear taillight is indeed out. The squad car’s blue roof lights reflect off the Mercedes’s trunk. The South Carolina flag is fluttering from a pole beyond the auto supply parking lot where the cars have stopped. A passenger sits silent beside Scott.

“I don’t have the insurance card,” Scott then says. “Like I say, I just bought the car from my…my neighbor. I was planning on doing all that on Monday. He still has the insurance on the car.”

“You have insurance on the car?” Slager asks.

“No, I don’t have insurance on the car,” Scott says.

“If you don’t have insurance on your car, since you bought it, you have to have insurance,” Slager says.

“I haven’t bought it yet,” Scott says. “Like I’m saying, I’m going to do that Monday.”

“But you bought it,” Slager says.

“He said I could drive the car, yeah,” Scott says.

“Oh, OK,” Slager says.

“Because my car is down,” Scott says. “I can call him.”

“Let me have your driver’s license,” Slager says.

Slager takes the license with his left hand.

“You don’t have any paperwork in the glove box?” Slager asks.

“No, sir,” Scott says.

“No registration in there? No insurance?” Slager asks.

“He has all that stuff,” Scott says.

“OK, but you bought this car?” Slager asks. “Did you already buy it?”

“Not yet,” Scott asks. “I’m about to buy it Monday.”

“A minute ago, you said you bought it, you’re changing it over on Monday,” Slager says.

“I’m sorry about that,” Scott says. “On Monday…”

Scott sounds no more flustered than everybody is when they get stopped. He is as pleasant as the cop remains.

“All right,” Slager says. “Be right back with you.”

Slager strides evenly back to the squad car, the license now in his right hand. The radio has continued to play “What It’s Like,” with a chorus about a girl who is dumped by her man after she becomes pregnant and has to go to an abortion clinic, where she is harried by protesters. Slager has a happily pregnant wife at home, due to deliver in May.

Slager climbs back into the car as the song comes to another stanza.

I’ve seen a rich man beg, I’ve seen a good man sin

I’ve seen a tough man cry, I’ve seen a loser win

And a sad man grin, I heard an honest man lie

I’ve seen the good side of bad and the downside of up

And everything between.

Slager begins to run a computer check on the license and the car.

I licked the silver spoon, drank from the golden cup

And smoked the finest green

I stroked the fattest dimes at least a couple of times

Before I broke their heart

You know where it ends, yo, it usually depends on where you start.

The driver’s side door of the Mercedes swings open, and Scott begins to emerge, half waving to Slager as if he wants to try to explain something.

“Stay in the car,” Slager commands.

Scott immediately obeys, closing the door. The song keeps playing.

I knew this kid named Max

Who used to get fat stacks out on the corner with drugs

He liked to hang out late

He liked to get shit-faced and keep the pace with thugs

Until late one night, there was a big old fight and Max lost his head.

Scott is not likely listening to this same song. He must only happen to choose this moment to open the door suddenly and bolt from the car. He reflexively slams the door behind him and runs off for reasons we may never know. The passenger stays put.

Slager is out of the dash cam’s view as he gives chase. The song keeps playing.

He pulled out his chrome .45, talked some shit, and wound up dead

Now his wife and his kids are caught in the midst of all of this pain

You know it comes that way

At least that’s what they say when you play the game

God forbid, you ever had to wake up to hear the news

’Cause then you really might know what it’s like to have to lose.

In the middle of it, Slager can be heard on the police radio.

“On foot, down Craig Street!” he reports. “Black male. Green shirt. Blue pants.”

Slager can then be heard crying out.

Taser! Taser! Taser!

Slager can then be heard commanding, “Get on the ground! Get on the ground! Get on the ground!”

The song on the commercial radio has come to its final chorus.

Then you really might know what it’s like

Then you really might know what it’s like

The dash cam recording does not pick up the gunshots as Slager fires bullet after bullet into the unarmed Scott’s back as he tries to flee.

Another video, made with a cellphone by a brave young man who had been on his way to work, captures the shooting that left Scott dead and Slager charged with murder.

But we should not forget to study closely the dash cam video—for the very reason that it seems to portend so little.

Slager looks and acts like the perfect cop. There is reason to think that nothing would have happened if Scott had not bolted.

But once Scott did, Slager suddenly made it horribly clear that under his professional exterior was someone who never should have been a cop in the first place.

If nothing else, the dash cam teaches us that we must learn to discern what lurks beneath.

Meanwhile, that eerie soundtrack ends as the song concludes and the DJ from Rock 98 Charleston comes on.

“Remember, the one station that plays it all.”


By: Michael Daly, The Daily Beast, April 10, 2015

April 11, 2015 - Posted by | Uncategorized

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