At Al Sharpton's National Action Network Convention in Manhattan, Ben Carson said he watched the video in horror when Walter Scott, a black man, was shot in the back as he ran away from a white police officer in South Carolina. After Scott was dead, the officer handcuffed him.
The North Charleston officer, Michael Slager, 33, was charged with murder after a video surfaced from a bystander who said he started recording after he heard a Taser being deployed during a scuffle between the officer and Walter Scott.
Dr. Ben Carson, a retired neurosurgeon and potential presidential candidate, urged the audience at Sharpton's conference to look at the shooting as an opportunity for the police to explain themselves to the nation. Conservatives and progressives have questioned the militarization of civilian police -- in their tactics and equipment -- especially after obtaining surplus military gear from the war in Iraq.
"Speaking of police, this situation with Walter Scott in South Carolina, I viewed that video with the same horror everyone here did,” Dr. Carson, who is African American, said, “This is such a clear-cut case that I believe it’s going to give law enforcement in this country an opportunity to really tell us where they are in this controversy.”
Slager initially reported that he fired 8 shots and killed Walter Scott because he feared for his life. After the video surfaced that showed the shooting was not in defense, the police chief fired Slager and ordered body cameras on all police officers.
Carson, who grew up in Detroit, warned the audience not to dismiss criminal behavior in the African American community because of police abuse.
“I also think that we in the African-American community have to make sure that we also recognize that sometimes there’s fault on our side. Sometimes we have people who don't obey the law, don't do lawful things and are thugs,” he said.
When introducing Carson to the audience, Sharpton urged the audience not to "boo" and said Carson isn't a "phony." “We have become so animated with polarized sides that we lost the ability to disagree but have a dialogue,” Sharpton said.
Other conservatives, such as Newt Gingrich, have also spoken at Al Sharpton's convention in the past.