The trials of two white, former police officers facing separate murder charges in Ohio and South Carolina are set to begin this week. There are numerous similarities between the two cases. Both officers are white and the victims black. Both incidents occurred during what seemingly should have been routine traffic stops. In both cases, video footage is likely to take center stage, the Christian Science Monitor reports. A body camera worn by former University of Cincinnati Police Officer Ray Tensing shows all of his encounter with Samuel DuBose, the black man he is on trial for shooting. In the case of former Charleston Police Officer Michael Slager, a grainy cellphone video filmed by a bystander shows Walter Scott running away as the officer shoots him in the back.
Both videos helped make the case for police wearing cameras as a way to help create more accountability and improve policing practices to help heal the nation’s racial divides. The videos themselves could play different roles in the trials. The body-camera footage of Tensing has been used to refute his and two other officers’ accounts of the confrontation. In Slager’s case, the footage also challenges the officer’s original statements, but Slager’s defense has already seized on what his attorneys say is the incomplete record of the video. It doesn’t show the moments leading up to the shooting, during which, attorneys say, Scott made Slager fear for his life.