The video of South Carolina police officer Michael Slager shooting a fleeing Walter Scott in the back has been seen by millions. It has once again brought up a national conversation about race and police. The video was shot by a young Dominican immigrant named Feiden Santana. This young man deserves a tremendous amount of credit for having the nerve and tenacity to stay with the filming while he observed the assassination and later attempt at a cover-up.
Santana told news outlets that his attention was first brought to the scene by sounds of a struggle. He stated:
Before I started recording, they were down on the floor. I remember the police [officer] had control of the situation. He had control of Scott. And Scott was trying just to get away from the Taser. But like I said, he never used the Taser against the cop.”
He then began filming as Scott tried to run away from Slager and the rest is literally history. Had Santana not been there to film the scene the headline would have read: “Officer Kills Criminal During Death Struggle.” And Slager gets a medal for being Cop of the Year. If you think that it was easy for Santana to stay there and video the whole scene, you are dead wrong. He could have easily been shot, assaulted or at least arrested by Slager and other cops responding to the scene had they become aware he was filming. He told the news that he feared for his life when he turned the video over and still fears retaliation. He even thought about just deleting the video and moving out of State.
But I was overjoyed and filled with pride when he told a news outlet that what drove him to instead turn the video over was the realization that Latin Americans see the USA as a symbol of justice and that it was just wrong for this to be happening in this country. For most Hispanics -and especially Dominicans – the Police Department is a corrupt force that abuses its citizens on a daily basis at the behest of an equally corrupt and uncaring government. My parents grabbed me and my two brothers and fled the Dominican Republic over 50 years ago to get away from dictator Rafael Trujillo and his death squads. My parents didn’t have to think twice about where they were taking us, there was only one choice – the United States of America. Many Americans take for granted the role and symbol this country plays in the eyes of the world. But those of us who came here knew America could provide two things to ALL its citizens better than any other place in the world: freedom and safety.
Feiden Santana sought to remind us of that and he turned the video over to hold those accountable who do not live up to the standard he expected America to live up to. The Dominican National Anthem begins with this line : Quisqueyanos valientes which in English means Brave men of Quisqueya Quisqeyano Valiente indeed. Feidin Santana – You made us proud.
follow Oscar Michelen on Twitter @oscarmichelen
See Feiden’s interview here:http://www.nbcnews.com/storyline/walter-scott-shooting/man-who-recorded-walter-scott-being-shot-speaks-out-n338126