Witness Who Filmed Walter Scott Shooting: ‘I Knew Right Away I Had Something on My Hands’

Feidin Santana
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Video Responsible for Quick Firing of S.C. Policeman

The news competition was fierce on a day when the suspect in the Boston Marathon bombing trial was found guilty, but "NBC Nightly News" anchor Lester Holt had set up shop Wednesday in North Charleston, S.C. He delivered the goods, snaring the first interview with the bystander who captured on video the shooting death of a black man by a white police officer.

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The witness, Feidin Santana, previously unidentified, told Holt that he sought to make the video public because he felt, "If I would have a family member that would happen [to], I would like to know the truth."

Santana, 23, also said, "As you can see in the video, the police officer just shot him in the back. I knew right away that I had something on my hands."

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The New York Times had already led Tuesday's print edition with a four-column headline, "Officer Is Charged With Murder of a Black Man Shot in the Back."

That was bolder display than most newspapers gave the story, which accelerated on Wednesday when the officer, Michael T. Slager, was fired after the video demonstrated that Slager had lied about the circumstances of Walter Scott's death on Saturday.

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For a police officer to be so swiftly punished for wrongdoing was exceedingly rare.

"Police in South Carolina have fired their weapons at 209 suspects in the past five years, and a handful of officers have been accused of pulling the trigger illegally – but none has [been] convicted, according to an analysis by The State newspaper," the Columbia, S.C., daily reported March 21 in an online story updated on Wednesday.

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"In South Carolina, it remains exceedingly rare for an officer to be found at fault criminally for shooting at someone.

"In an unusual turnaround, prosecutors late last year filed a spate of charges for use of excessive force against three white officers in the shootings of black drivers. Only one went to trial but resulted in a hung jury. . . ."

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Before Slager was fired, the Post and Courier, Charleston's daily newspaper, had editorialized that the city should remain calm. Without the video, Scott family members and community leaders agreed, it was doubtful that Slager's lies would have been uncovered so quickly.

Still, the Poynter Institute's Al Tompkins felt obligated to explain why the Times and others were justified in posting the video.

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"One question I ask in cases like this is 'If the main function of journalism is to "seek truth and report it as fully as possible" then how would you explain why you withheld the video?' Remember, the lawyer for the shooting victim's family provided the video, so presumably the family wanted the video to go public, which mitigates concerns you might have about being sensitive to the family by showing the video," Tompkins wrote.

"A key reason to show video, even graphic video, is that it reveals facts that are counter to official reports. The officer said his life was in danger, the video appears to show otherwise. The officer said Scott took his stun gun, the video calls that into question.

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"Some TV reports only used the shooting video but not what happened next. There may be a reason to show the disturbing images of Scott lying on the ground. The Times said the officer claimed, in police reports, to have provided CPR on Scott, but the video does not show that to be the case.

"Given the recent history of questionable police shootings in the United States, if this shooting had been justified, if the officer had been in danger and the video proved that, the video should have been shown out of fairness to the officer. So it is fair to show the video when the video casts the officer in a bad light too. . . ."

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"NBC Nightly News" followed its interview with Santana with a report by Ron Allen from Ferguson, Mo., on whether protests over police killings of other people of color have really brought progress. The package was more extensive than that delivered by competitors ABC and CBS. On CBS, reporter Vicente Arenas called the then-unidentified eyewitness a "local barber" [video].

Holt's exclusive came a day after the Times reported, "For the first time in five and a half years, ABC's 'World News Tonight' defeated the 'NBC Nightly News' in total viewers last week. ABC’s evening newscast averaged 7.99 million viewers a night compared with NBC’s 7.91 million for the week beginning March 30, according to Nielsen. . . ."

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But this seemed not the time to think about ratings, though NBC had Santana interviewed later on "All in With Chris Hayes" on MSNBC and scheduled him for the "Today" show on NBC on Thursday.

On the "Nightly News," Holt said to Santana, "As a result of that video, a  man, a police officer has been charged with murder. How do you feel about that?

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Santana replied, "It's not something that no one can feel happy about. He has his family, Mr. Scott, also has his family, but I think you know he made a bad decision and . . . you pay for your decisions in this life. Mr. Scott didn't deserve this. There are other ways that can be used to get him arrested and that wasn't the proper way to do that."

He added on Chris Hayes' show, "I won't deny that I knew the magnitude of this, and I even thought about erasing the video.

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"I felt that my life with this information might be in danger. I thought about erasing the video and just getting out of the community, you know Charleston, and living someplace else. I knew the cop didn't do the right thing."

Charles M. Blow, New York Times: In South Carolina, Shot in the Back as He Ran

Bryan Burrough, Vanity Fair: The Inside Story of the Civil War for the Soul of NBC News

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Stephen A. Crockett Jr., The Root: Here's What You Need to Know About Walter L. Scott

Jarvis DeBerry, NOLA.com | the Times-Picayune: 13 ways of looking at yet another black man killed by the police

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Jarvis DeBerry, NOLA.com | the Times-Picayune: South Carolina killing provides a shocking glimpse of police aggression

Editorial, New York Times: The Walter Scott Murder

Stephen Henderson, Detroit Free Press: Killings by police display man's inhumanity to man

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Andrew Knapp, Post and Courier, Charleston, S.C.: VIDEO: Day after officer's arrest, video of shooting death sparks protests, more action

Clif LeBlanc, the State, Columbia, S.C.: EXCLUSIVE: SC officers exonerated in more than 200 shootings

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Jaeah Lee, Mother Jones: White Police Officer Is South Carolina's Third Charged in Past Year for Killing an Unarmed Black Man 

Frederick H. Lowe, blackmanstreet.today: Cops Shoot 2 Black Men in the Back, Killing Both in Separate Incidents (April 9)

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Evan McMurry, Mediaite: CNN's Lamont Hill: 'Keep Spotlight' on Scott Shooting, 'Only Way We Get Indictments'

Michael S. Schmidt and Matt Apuzzo, New York Times: South Carolina Officer Is Charged With Murder of Walter Scott

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Bruce Smith and Jeffrey Collins, Associated Press: Officer didn't warn man before he shot him 8 times

Catherine Taibi, Huffington Post: 7 Things We Learned From Vanity Fair's Exposé On Brian Williams

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Al Tompkins, Poynter Institute: Graphic New York Times video seems justified

Jeremy Turnage, WCSC-TV, Charleston, S.C.: State, federal leaders respond to Walter Scott shooting

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Philip Weiss, WCSC-TV, Charleston, S.C.: 'Black Lives Matter' [holds] rallies in N. Charleston for Walter Scott

Ferguson's Historic Election Might Not Be All It Seemed

The election of two additional black council members Tuesday in Ferguson, Mo., was reported approvingly by the national media as a sign of progress, but the St. Louis American, the area's leading black newspaper, was not so impressed.

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"Our candidates lost," Editor Chris King told Journal-isms by telephone on Wednesday.

"When the national media send people here," of course they would justify the trip by playing up the significance of the results. But "the City Council is not the most powerful body. We have a city manager form of government. Once he or she is hired (by the council), he or she runs the government."

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As reported by Stephen Deere in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, "For the first time in Ferguson's 120-year history, the City Council will have three African-American members, but even so, Tuesday's election was less than a clear victory for the throngs of volunteers who poured into the city in a last-minute push to sway voters.

"Perhaps the most significant aspect of the results for Ferguson City Council was that 30 percent of the city's 12,738 registered voters cast ballots — more than double the typical turnout. The high turnout did not favor two candidates supported by protesters: Bob Hudgins and Lee Smith. . . ."

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Those were the two candidates favored by the St. Louis American.

King wrote in an editorial to be published on Thursday, "The outcome of this worthy — perhaps impossible — effort to transform street protests into a change slate in a municipal election was mixed at best. Given that [Wesley] Bell and [Ella] Jones are both black, and Dwayne James' seat on the council was not up for election, African Americans now hold half of the seats on the Ferguson City Council for the first time, in a city that is 67 percent black. However, the candidate closest to the protest movement — Hudgins, who is white — lost, and both of the new black council members may pose obstacles to reform.

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"As a prosecutor in another municipality and judge in a third, Bell makes part of his living in the predatory municipal court system that has been exposed through the Ferguson protest movement. As for Jones, she told St. Louis Public Radio, 'In order for Ferguson to hold its own identity, we need to keep our own police department.' Jones must not have read the Department of Justice report on the Ferguson Police Department if, as an African American, she wants her city identified with that department. . . ."

The St. Louis American last year won the National Newspaper Publishers Association’s Russwurm/Sengstacke Trophy for general excellence for the third consecutive year. The newspaper has won the black press group's award eight times in the past 15 years.

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Lauren Duca, Huffington Post: Watch This Documentary To Understand The Institutionalized Racism In Ferguson (April 2)

Margaret Wolf Freivogel, St. Louis Public Radio: Editor's Weekly: How journalism failed in Ferguson (April 2)

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Paul Hitlin and Jesse Holcomb, Pew Research Center: From Twitter to Instagram, a different #Ferguson conversation

Reporters Without Borders: RSF fully supports journalists suing Ferguson police (April 3)

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Mariah Stewart and Ryan J. Reilly, St. Louis American and Huffington Post: Ferguson election result changes the face Of City Council

Postal Service Says It Won't Reissue Angelou Stamp

"The Postal Service said Wednesday that it had no plans to reissue a stamp honoring Maya Angelou that features a quotation from a book by another author," Ron Nixon reported Wednesday for the New York Times.

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The statement means the quotation will not be changed, a Postal Service spokesman told Journal-isms.

"The quotation — 'A bird doesn't sing because it has an answer, it sings because it has a song'— has often been attributed to Ms. Angelou, the poet and author who died last year at age 86, but it is actually from a 1967 book of poems by Joan Walsh Anglund, a writer of children's books," Nixon wrote.

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"A spokesman for the Postal Service, David Partenheimer, said that Ms. Angelou had cited the quotation frequently in interviews and that it provided a connection to her 1969 autobiography, 'I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings.'

" 'The sentence was chosen to accompany her image on the stamp to reflect her passion for the written and spoken word,' he said in an email. 'The sentence held great meaning for her, and she is publicly identified with its popularity.' 

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"Postal Service officials said they had not heard of Ms. Anglunds book, 'A Cup of Sun,' until asked about it by The Washington Post, which published an article about the stamp on Monday. Ms. Anglund, 89, told The Post that she was a fan of Ms. Angelou's and hoped that the stamp would be successful. . . ."

As reported on Monday, Jabari Asim, executive editor of the NAACP's The Crisis magazine, former editor in the Washington Post's Book World section and associate professor of writing, literature and publishing at Emerson College in Boston, was suspicious of the quotation attributed to Angelou on the stamp that was to be issued on Tuesday.

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"The exact quote — the one that appears on the Angelou forever stamp — also appears on Page 15 in the book 'A Cup of Sun,' by Joan Walsh Anglund, copyright 1967," Lonnae O'Neal wrote Monday for the Washington Post.

O'Neal reached Anglund Monday night at her Connecticut home, where the poet said, "Yes, that's my quote."

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The Postal Service went ahead with its ceremony on Tuesday and defended the quotation. "The Forever Stamp honoring Maya Angelou contains the sentence 'A bird doesn't sing because it has an answer, it sings because it has a song,' a spokesman said.

"Maya Angelou cited this sentence frequently in media interviews and other forums and it provides a connection to her first memoir 'I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings.' The sentence was chosen to accompany her image on the stamp to reflect her passion for the written and spoken word. The sentence held great meaning for her and she is publicly identified with its popularity."

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Asim, who was interviewed about the stamp Tuesday and Wednesday by broadcast journalists, told Journal-isms Wednesday by email, "I think the Anglund quote should definitely be removed. Keeping it would not be fair to Angelou or to Anglund."

80% of Black Women Say They Must Alter Identity for Career

"Black women are the only group that has not recovered the jobs [it] lost in the recession," Jazelle Hunt wrote Tuesday for the National Newspaper Publishers Association. "Five years into national recovery, the unemployment rate for Black women has even risen a little since December, from 8.2 percent to 9.2 percent.

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"On the flip side, employment brings its own unique difficulties for Black women, too.

"According to a new report commissioned by Essence magazine, 80 percent of Black women surveyed believed that they could not advance in their careers without altering aspects of their identities. Additionally, 57 percent believed that they had to 'look a certain way' to be promoted, compared to 39 percent of White women who thought similarly.

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"And while Black women are more optimistic, ambitious, and self-confident in their careers than their White counterparts, they are much more likely to say they are different at home than they are at work. . . ."

Photos Show Toll of Diabetes on Abu-Jamal; Neglect Feared

"New photos of an apparently frail and ill Mumia Abu-Jamal, with visibly darkened, hardened skin as a result of complications from diabetes, were released Tuesday morning via email by his supporters, friends and family, Todd Steven Burroughs reported Tuesday for The Root.

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"They are continuing to maintain a vigil outside State Correctional Institution Mahanoy, the Pennsylvania prison where the 60-year-old former Black Panther and now-famous prison journalist and radio commentator, convicted of the 1982 murder of a white Philadelphia police officer, fell ill. They are demanding that he get proper medical care and have charged that prison officials are attempting to kill him through medical neglect. . . ."

Brian E. Muhammad, Final Call: Closing ranks around Mumia

The Nation Magazine Slowly Adding Young Staffers of Color

"Victor Navasky — The Nation's editor for 18 years, publisher for 10, and now publisher emeritus — has a saying about the magazine: 'What's good for the nation is bad for The Nation,' " Gabriel Arana reported Tuesday for the Huffington Post.

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"Founded by abolitionists in 1865, the 'flagship of the left,' as it's come to be known, has indeed seen its subscriber rolls swell in periods when liberals have been out of power, and slip when progressivism is ascendant. . . ."

Arana wrote that Editor-in-Chief Katrina vanden Heuvel "has also sought to bring young writers and contributors on staff and into the magazine's pages. MSNBC's [Chris] Hayes was just 28 when he was named Washington editor, and investigative reporter Jeremy Scahill wrote extensively for the magazine in his early 30s before helping found . . . The Intercept, a journalism upstart focused on national security. Last year, The Nation also hired 26-year-old Sarah Leonard from Dissent. The current roster of bloggers includes young writers of color like Michelle Chen, 34, and Mychal Denzel Smith, 28.

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" 'Nurturing younger writers takes more time, but there's a commitment to doing that,' vanden Heuvel says.

"Under vanden Heuvel's leadership, The Nation has also sought to hire and promote the work of journalists of color — a challenge for a publication that has drawn heavily from the ranks of the majority-white Boomer generation. The publication has been slower than others in reflecting the increase in minority voices entering the profession, in part because it experiences much less turnover than its competitors.

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"But the magazine recently poached Kai Wright from Colorlines, an online magazine that covers race, as its features editor, and promoted Richard Kim, who is Asian-American, to executive editor, making it one of the few political magazines with minorities in its senior leadership. . . ."

Claire Fallon, Huffington Post: Women Of Color Still Denied The Love They Deserve From Literary Journals

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Kanye West Settles With Photographer He Assaulted

"Kanye West has settled a lawsuit with a paparazzi photographer he assaulted — and the two have shaken on it," Jethro Mullen reported Wednesday for CNN.

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"The photographer, Daniel Ramos, had filed the civil suit against West after the hip-hop star attacked him and tried to wrestle his camera from him in July 2013 at Los Angeles International Airport.

"West pleaded no contest last year to a misdemeanor count of battery over the scuffle. A judge sentenced him to two years' probation, as well as anger management sessions and community service.

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"Ramos and his lawyer, Gloria Allred, sought general and punitive damages in the civil suit, saying that West had interfered with the photographer's rights to pursue a lawful occupation. . . ."

Comcast Rallies Beneficiaries in Bid for Time Warner Cable

"The letters have come from all around the United States — from the Nutmeg Big Brothers and Big Sisters in Connecticut, the Houston Area Urban League and even the Dan Marino Foundation in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. — some praising the Comcast Corporation, others urging the federal government to stand aside and approve Comcast's proposed takeover of Time Warner Cable," Eric Lipton reported Sunday for the New York Times.

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"The argument has been reinforced by a blitz of academic papers from groups like the International Center for Law and Economics in Portland, Ore. More endorsements have come in from elected officials like Gov. Phil Bryant, a Republican of Mississippi, and Fred Crespo, a Democratic state representative in Illinois.

" 'The merger will not hinder competition but will bring better technology to more consumers,' Mr. Bryant said.

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"But there is a common element to dozens of these appeals: The senders received money from Comcast in recent years, either as a charitable donation, corporate support or a political contribution, records show.

"It is a demonstration of how Comcast, the media conglomerate long known for its aggressive lobbying operation, has enlisted a vast network of allies to press federal regulators to approve the $45 billion transaction, much as it did in 2010 as it sought to acquire NBCUniversal. . . ."

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Arturo Carmona, Fox News Latino: The Comcast-Time Warner merger really is that bad for Latinos

Mario H. Lopez, Fox News Latino: Time Warner-Comcast deal has morphed into rallying point for self-proclaimed social justice activist (March 26)

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ESPN's Hill Wants More Women in Key On-Air Roles

Jemele Hill, an ESPN.com columnist who calls herself "The better half of ESPN2's His and Hers," her show with Michael Smith, was the subject last week of a three-part series by J.R. Gamble of the Shadow League.

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Gamble introduced it as its "first profile in our TSL Leadership Series."

In Part II, Hill talked about being a black woman in a male-dominated world.

"With all of the support I received, any prejudices that I might have encountered just weren't enough to stop me; but that doesn't mean you don't deal with them," Hill said. "I know that at each step along the way, there were people that didn't believe in me or my ability. Now some of that has nothing to do with my gender or race, but some of it did. And once I started getting deeper into television, I think that there were people that frankly didn't know what to do with me. I wasn't a classic host. I was a commentator.

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"I figured out that TV is all about duplicating what's already been successful. There are a lot of great copycat artists in television masquerading as geniuses. I didn't fit a mold. I'm sure if there were 10 other black women in sports television driving successful shows, I might have had the opportunity to drive a show sooner.

"I'd like to see women and people of color extended meaningful opportunities, and not just given 'chances.' There's a difference. I was very happy to see Fox give Katie Nolan her own show. She's young, gutsy and edgy. But could a young woman of color get that same opportunity and investment?

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"I'm encouraged by the increasing numbers of women I see in this business. But I'm discouraged somewhat by the roles we're being offered. I stand out because I'm one of the few women driving content on a news-of-the-day sports show. There always will be roles set aside for women as sideline reporters and as hosts, but I'd like to see more women driving shows or more women as play-by-play announcers. And if we are hosting, I'd like to see more of us hosting major properties, like NFL pregame shows.

"I run into a lot of women who know sports just as well or better, but they haven't been put in a position to showcase their depth and versatility. Women and people of color often have to prove what they aren't, before people truly see who they are. . . ."

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J.R. Gamble, the Shadow League: TSL Leadership Series: The Diary of Jemele Hill

J.R. Gamble, the Shadow League: TSL Leadership Series: The Diary of Jemele Hill, Part II

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J.R. Gamble, the Shadow League: TSL Leadership Series: The Diary of Jemele Hill, Part III

Short Takes

"MSNBC's PoliticsNation with Al Sharpton was the lowest-rated show in the 25-54 demo across the three big cable news networks on Monday between the hours of 5 p.m. and midnight ET," Mediaite reported on Tuesday. "Al Sharpton‘s program had just 55K viewers in the demo, coming in third place in his 6 p.m. time slot behind Fox News' Special Report with Bret Baier (312K) and CNN’s The Situation Room with Wolf Blitzer (146K). . . ."

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"Facing congressional pushback, President Barack Obama has tried building support for a nuclear agreement with Iran in recent days by making the administration's case through the news media," Michael Calderone reported Tuesday for the Huffington Post. Eugene Robinson of the Washington Post was among the journalists invited to meet with the president on Monday.

"Early this morning I received an email from a Birmingham gentleman whom I'd met a few months ago through a mutual friend," Roy S. Johnson wrote foral.com. "He works in public relations and said he represented Bill Cosby, who wanted to share a sports story with an African-American sports journalist. The gentleman remembered our introduction and reached out to me. I didn't call him back immediately. Not surprising, as you might imagine. Eventually, though, I did call the rep and before I could say much more than, 'Hello,' he said: 'Would you mind holding while I get Mr. Cosby on the phone?' A few seconds later, Bill Cosby (or the best Bill Cosby impersonator ever) was on the line. . . ."  Johnson is director, sports, Alabama Media Group and @aldotcom.

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"Reena Ninan has been named co-anchor of America This Morning and World News Now, ABC News announced this morning," Chris Ariens reported Wednesday for TVNewser. "Ninan joins former CNN anchor T.J. Holmes at the anchor desk, where she has been filling in for some time. . . ."

In Louisville, Ky., "A wrongful death lawsuit has been filed against WHAS TV News, a sports reporter, a tow truck company and its driver in connection with the death of a woman who was hit when she fell in a downtown Louisville crosswalk in January," Jason Riley reported Tuesday for WDRB.com. "The lawsuit, filed in Jefferson Circuit Court last week by the family of Fontaine Jeffrey, claims tow truck driver Matthew Good was out of control when he struck Jeffrey . . . on Jan. 23. After that, Jeff Woods, a reporter for WHAS, hit Jeffrey, 'dragging her several feet down Jefferson Street,' according to the lawsuit. Woods stopped his vehicle, got out and 'without rendering aid,' got back in his news vehicle and 'fled the scene of the accident,' the suit claims. . . ."

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An April 3 "Short Takes" item mistakenly said that Sharon Farmer was the first woman and the first African American to become White House photographer. The late Ricardo Thomas, who worked under presidents Gerald R. Ford and Jimmy Carter, is believed to have been the first White House photographer of color.

"Nima Ahmed has been named Director of Programming for CNN, overseeing 40 hours of programming a week," Chris Ariens reported Tuesday for TVNewser. "Ahmed joined CNN/HLN 10 years ago working on various shows, most recently as ep of Morning Express with Robin Meade. . . ."

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In welcoming more than 50 people who crowded into his stately, four-story Harlem, N.Y., mansion, Les Payne, retired Newsday editor and columnist, urged everyone to spend most of their time talking to people they didn't know, DeWayne Wickham wrote Monday for USA Today. "By the night's end, people were talking about how they could help each other — and what can be done to improve the lives of black people who've never heard of a Harlem salon. That's both the power and potential of what the Paynes have done with their version of the Harlem Renaissance gathering. . . ."

"Bob Schieffer, the anchor of CBS News' 'Face the Nation,' announced Wednesday that he will retire this summer after more than 50 years of working in journalism," CBS News reported.

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"Somali press freedom advocates lashed out at Somalia government officials on Saturday after . . . staff members at two radio stations were arrested over their coverage of the Garissa, Kenya, massacre on Thursday," Radio France Internationale reported on Tuesday. It also said, "The journalists and two staff members were arrested by the National Security and Intelligence Agency after they reportedly broadcast a statement by Al-Shebab leader Ali Dere claiming that the movement carried out the Garissa attack. . . ."

"A coalition of media organizations and journalists led by the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press has filed petitions to unseal secretive criminal prosecutions of four Colombian paramilitary leaders who were extradited to the United States in 2008," Hannah Bloch-Wehba reported Tuesday for the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press.

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The Committee to Protect Journalists said Tuesday that it "condemns the sentencing of Moroccan press freedom advocate Hicham Mansouri, who was handed a 10-month prison term and $4,057 fine over adultery charges by Rabat's Court of First Instance on March 30, according to local and international news reports. Mansouri is a project manager for the Moroccan Association for Investigative Journalism (AMJI), a group formed in 2011 to support journalists reporting on a variety of issues in the country, some of which are politically sensitive. He told the court he had been working on a report about alleged Internet surveillance of activists and journalists by the Moroccan authorities before his arrest, Samad Iach, a colleague of Mansouri's, told CPJ. . . ."

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