Emily Babay, Philly.comLAST UPDATED: Thursday, April 9, 2015, 11:03 PM
POSTED: Thursday, April 9, 2015, 12:07 PM
In this April 4, 2015, frame from video provided by attorney L. Chris Stewart representing the family of Walter Lamer Scott, Scott lies face down at the feet of City Patrolman Michael Thomas Slager, right, in North Charleston, S.C. Slager was charged with murder Tuesday, April 7, hours after law enforcement officials viewed the dramatic video that appears to show him shooting a fleeing Scott several times in the back. (AP Photo/Courtesy of L. Chris Stewart)
The fatal shooting of an unarmed man by a South Carolina police officer is a "defining moment" for law enforcement, Police Commissioner Charles H. Ramsey says in an article posted Thursday on Time's website.Cellphone video shows Scott fleeing as Slager fires his pistol eight times. The video has been widely disseminated and has rekindled the controversy over unarmed black men being killed by white officers.
The commissioner called for better training for officers and more understanding between police and their communities.
"There is a lot of tension that has been boiling beneath the surface for a long time," Ramsey wrote. "Tragic as this shooting is, it takes events like these to force the kind of change that's necessary."
Ramsey's article comes amid the uproar that followed Saturday's fatal shooting of an African American man, Walter Scott, 50, by a white North Charleston officer, Michael Thomas Slager.
Slager, 33, who has ties to South Jersey, was arrested Tuesday and charged with murder after the video surfaced.
The incident, Ramsey wrote, is "another black mark for police at a time when we can least afford one."
He wrote that "officers need to use better judgment," and departments "need to implement more reality-based training programs that allow cops to better prepare for these life-or-death decisions."
The commissioner added that the Scott case highlighted the importance of video, and said police body cameras would provide more complete footage.
Ramsey has been in the spotlight on such issues in recent months, as the chair of a presidential task force on 21st century policing and for asking the U.S. Department of Justice to review officer-involved shootings by Philadelphia police.
In the Time piece, he said most officers do their jobs well.
"We all need to work toward understanding each other," he wrote. "Whether you're talking about black lives matter or all lives matter, don't limit the conversation to shootings that involve police. The majority of homicides are not the result of police shootings."
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