State Senator files bill protecting people who record police

COLUMBIA, SC - In the Walter Scott shooting, the eyewitness video quickly became a big part of the investigation.

Many argue it led to the swift murder charge against former officer Slager. The man behind the lens, Feidin Santana, said he nearly deleted the video clip out of fear of retribution.

A South Carolina lawmaker is working to protect people who film interactions between police and suspects. A bill filed Tuesday in the Senate will make sure people aren't charged with interference when they turn on their cameras. State Sen. Gerald Malloy of Darlington says after the shooting of Walter Scott it is important for everyone to know their rights when it comes to recording police officers.

The deadly shooting prompted days of protests in North Charleston. Many demonstrators say the cell phone video of the shooting is key in the investigation.

"Clearly what just happened with Walter Scott makes it known how important that is, because if it had not been for that video, we would not be where we are now," said J. Denise Cromwell with Black Lives Matter.

The bill filed Tuesday would prohibit officers from taking away someone's phone during a traffic stop, or preventing them from recording, as long as the person is not interfering with the officer's duties.

"As long as you are not obstructing justice at all," said Cromwell. 

"If you feel that something is not right with the police, stop and start filming. That is your First Amendment right anyway," said Elder James Johnson with the National Action Network.

Meanwhile, there are some social media applications that have been created to help record officers during traffic stops. An application called Hands Up For Justice allows a person to record on the phone, the screen turns black while it is still recording, and then the video is also linked to Dropbox or Youtube. 

"You can't be afraid to use your cell phone. That is your constitutional right. That cell phone can make or break a case," said Cromwell. 

State Senator Malloy says there have been cases where officers stop people from recording during traffic stops, and that is another reason he filed the bill on Tuesday.

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