The fatal shooting of Walter Scott in South Carolina, Real Time host Bill Maher said on Friday, puts the lie on the common argument that most police officers are working to help their communities.
"I guess they are. But that second cop came over, and he was black, and he was helping the guy cover it up," Maher argued. "If you're helping to cover up this police culture, they're not all good. There's something wrong with the whole barrel. It's not just a few apples."
Maher said that, as unsettling as the footage of Scott being shot and killed by North Charleston Officer Thomas Slager was, it was also ugly for him to see how "non-chalant" Slager behaved following the incident.
The footage, captured by witness Feidin Santana, shows Slager firing eight times at Scott. Maher said it shows how the idea of the gun as the "tool of choice" has spread in American culture.
"We see it in movies. We see it in videos," the host said. "It just seems like the gun is too ready and available. And also, why do guns always have to empty the whole clip?"
"The reason cops are supposed to empty the clip is that, in police training, you're supposed to shoot to take down the person coming at you," New York Times columnist Ross Douhat responded. "This is why people say, 'Cops should be trained to shoot somebody in the ankle' and so on. That doesn't work. If you're actually in a life-or-death situation, you're supposed to aim for the center."
"Really? I think that would work on me," Maher replied. "I think if you get shot in the leg, it works. What bullsh*t is that?"
Roll Call EIC Christina Bellantoni noted that Rep. Jim Clyburn (D-SC) has advised residents to keep their cell phones charged at all times, pointing out that the spread of technology has allowed more instances of excessive force by police to be documented.
"It completely changes the conversation of criminal justice, in a way that's probably scary to a lot of people," she said. "You think about whatever happened many years ago, we'll never know."
"You mean this is not a coincidence?" Maher asked sarcastically. "That cops didn't start shooting unarmed black people when we got iPhones?"
With police now "armed to the teeth," CNN host Fareed Zakaria argued, data shows that Americans are now "50 times more likely to be killed by a cop than a terrorist in the United States."
"It just feels like we've gotten away from the Anglo-American system of justice, which was all about the rights of the individual," Zakaria said. "That was meant to be the heart of what the Anglo-American justice system was about."
Watch the discussion, as posted online on Friday, below.