2.7 seconds How 8 bullets pierced the nation

By Andrew Knapp and Tony Bartelme

A blink of an eye takes about four-tenths of a second. From the first shot to the last, the shooting of Walter L. Scott took 2.7 seconds. Seven blinks.

This brief moment in time would have a cascading effect: Scott grabbed his left side and crumpled face-first onto a patch of grass; Michael T. Slager, the North Charleston police officer who shot him, lowered his pistol; Feidin Santana, on his way to work, finished capturing it all on his phone camera, video that would bring these seconds to the world. 

But that 2.7-second space in time is deceptive. Experts in officer-involved shootings say they usually happen after a chain of events, each link leading to another until the one where an officer decides to pull the trigger.

And this burst of gunfire also happened against the longer chain of history, in this case, one stretching back to slavery, segregation, decades of discrimination and, more recently, officer-involved deaths in Missouri, New York, Ohio and so many other places across the country.

As with any chain, a tragedy has links that, if broken, could have changed everything. And one such link was forged at 9:33 a.m. April 4, when Slager turned on his blue lights behind a 1990 Mercedes. 

For the rest of the story, visit www.postandcourier.com/scott-timegap/


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