We can’t see his face.
In far too many stories about Walter Scott–the black 50-year-old who white North Charleston, S.C., officer Michael Slager fatally shot on April 4, 2015–we can’t see his face.
Instead we see images of Scott’s back as he flees from the scene of a traffic stop. (Scott’s family has said that he ran because he owed $18,000 in child support and there was a bench warrant out for his arrest.)
The back of Scott on the run really doesn’t show us the father of four, the husband-to-be, the Coast Guard veteran or the forklift driver proud of the used Benz he had just bought. Walter Scott is just a suspect on the police radio: “Black male. Green shirt. Blue pants.”
That’s why Colorlines asked artist Richard Péan to draw a portrait of this man the way his family and community might want to remember him–calm, with a smile.
In the interest of accountability we also had Péan draw Slager. For days the 33-year-old, who had worked on the Charleston police force for five years, allowed the department to spread his lie about how Scott died with five bullets in his back. He claimed Scott grabbed his Taser and that he shot him during a scuffle.
Only because bystander Feidin Santana, filmed and released cell-phone video of the slaying was the officer charged with first-degree murder and fired. Without that video, Slager would have been just another White Officer in Fear for His Life.
Just as you’ve shared artist Erin Zipper’s images of other police violence victims including Amadou Diallo, Aiyanna Stanley Jones, John Crawford III, Michael Brown and Eric Garner, we want you to share Péan’s portraits of Scott and the officer who killed him.
And then we want you to be prepared for more drawings of people of color killed by police when running away or standing still, sleeping or walking down the street, holding a toy in a store aisle or a wallet on their doorstep.
After all, this is what open season looks like.