Another White SC Cop Arrested For Killing An Unarmed Black Man

For the second time this week, a white South Carolina police officer has been arrested for unjustifiably murdering an unarmed black man. The South Carolina Law Enforcement Division (SLED) announced on Tuesday that Justin Gregory Craven, a (now former) public safety officer from North Augusta, has been arrested on charges of unlawfully discharging a firearm into an occupied vehicle in the shooting death of Earnest Satterwhite.

Apparently, Craven was led in a chase from the highway to Satterwhite’s home in February 2014 several miles away, as he suspected the 68-year-old Satterwhite of driving under the influence. Originally, Craven was only charged with in-office misconduct, but, once again, video and other evidence saved the day. Craven originally reported that he and Satterwhite had been engaged in a battle over Craven’s service weapon in Satterwhite’s driveway.

The entire shooting was captured on video, but SLED will not release it, saying that it is evidence in an investigation that is still open. While Craven says in an unreleased police report that Satterwhite, quote, “grabbed my gun,” a lawsuit that has been filed in amounts of more than $1 million by the family of Earnest Satterwhite “vehemently denies” that any such struggle for the officer’s service weapon took place.

Originally, state prosecutors went for a manslaughter charge against Craven, but he was only indicted on charges of “misconduct in office.” The felony charge is recent, and the misdemeanor is still pending. Craven was taken into custody and booked on Tuesday, according to SLED, the same day that Michael Slager, the North Charleston officer who murdered Walter Scott, was charged with murder after a cell phone video showing the cop shooting the unarmed man in the back as he fled for his life.

While the Slager case is getting national attention, the case of the death of Earnest Satterwhite has not, though it should. A life was senselessly lost here as well, in a similar manner, and both killings were potentially racially motivated. Perhaps the eeriest similarity in both incidences is that neither man had a history of violent criminal activity, though both had outstanding legal issues that did not involve violence. In the case of Walter Scott, he had overdue child support payments. In the case of Earnest Satterwhite, there were multiple arrests and convictions due to traffic violations.

The Associated Press says the following of the Satterwhite case:

Police records show Satterwhite had been arrested more than a dozen times for traffic violations, most of them for driving under suspension or under the influence. Most of the charges led to convictions. He also was charged at least three times for failing to stop as officers tried to pull him over. But his record shows no evidence he ever physically fought with an officer.

So, in both cases, white police officers killed unarmed black men they had no reason to fear. On the contrary, the fact that the officers are alive and the black men are dead shows that it was the black men who had something to fear from the police. And people wonder why the cops are the last people we as African-Americans would ever call if we needed help.

All I can do is hope that Satterwhite’s family wins their lawsuit, and that Walter Scott’s family follows through with their plans to file one. I also hope that both now-former cops are convicted of their respective charges and spend a long, long time behind bars. While these things will not bring Earnest Satterwhite or Walter Scott back, they should, at the very least, send a message that the days of cops murdering black people with impunity are coming to an end, and bring some relief and a sense of justice to their grieving families. In both cases, may justice be served.


H/T: Washington Post | Featured Image: Justin Craven courtesy of Edgefield County Detention Center