A Police Shooting. A Viral Video. An Obsessive Quest for Truth.



On April 4, 2015, Walter Scott, an unarmed black man, was fatally shot by Michael Slager, a police officer who had stopped Scott for a nonfunctioning brake light. A shaky video taken by a witness revealed some essential facts: Scott had been running away when he was shot from behind, and Slager appeared to toss an unidentified object near Scott’s body following the shooting. But that was where the observable truth seemed to end.

Nearly 1,000 miles from the scene of the South Carolina incident, a Canadian college student watched the iPhone video. His name was Daniel Voshart, and his studies in cinematography focused on image stabilization. He applied his latest techniques to the footage and managed to stabilize a small section of the video. Suddenly, the previously blurry object was in clear view—and it appeared to be a Taser. When Voshart played back the stabilized footage, he could see Slager drop the Taser next to Scott’s body. It was potentially disturbing key evidence.

Voshart was outraged. Wanting to see Slager brought to justice for what he perceived to be a racially motivated murder and an attempted cover-up, he looped the footage into an animated GIF and posted it to Reddit. The community responded to his anger in kind. That’s when Rich Williamson, a close friend of Voshart’s, decided to start documenting the situation as it unfolded.

“The internet called for blood,” Williamson told me, “which pushed Daniel to look deeper. He felt partly responsible for the narrative of Slager planting evidence. He decided that the most complete narrative of what happened would only reveal itself by going frame by frame and taking the time to stabilize the entire video.”

Williamson’s short documentary Frame 394 bears witness to the moral quandaries that Voshart faced as a result of his efforts to elucidate the incident. When Voshart began to uncover a more ambiguous situation than the one his initial work had suggested, he found that “the internet wasn’t interested in a nuanced perspective,” Williamson said. The film lays bare the complexities of truth and justice in the age of viral media. Read more: https://www.theatlantic.com/video/index/584320/frame-394/

“Frame 394” was directed by Rich Williamson (https://www.compyfilms.com/). It is part of The Atlantic Selects, an online showcase of short documentaries from independent creators, curated by The Atlantic.

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34 thoughts on “A Police Shooting. A Viral Video. An Obsessive Quest for Truth.

  1. Ria_Pineapple_ Ria July 12, 2019 at 7:35 pm

    The thing is…I just don’t get it. I stopped going outside to hang out with my friends after I started seeing black men and women being beaten and killed and kids thrown by police officers in schools. The reason is I’m scared. I don’t wanna be but I can’t help it. Tbh the reason why I think we resist is because of our ancestors. They sacrificed their lives to make this world a better place where every race could get along. But apparently it looks like all that hard work went to waste because the world in a whole can’t keep the peace. I don’t wanna grow up living in world where I have to fear for my life where I have to fear if I’m ever gonna see the kids I wanna have in the future grow up into men and women. I want a future I wanna grow and learn more before I have to leave this earth. I don’t wanna leave while I’m 16 or 17. Ik no ones gonna read this comment but I had to put my feelings out there.

  2. Marcus Kessler July 12, 2019 at 7:35 pm

    JUSTICE HAS BEEN SERVED. Thank you Daniel without your work I doubt todays verdict would have been reached.

  3. Peter Guillam July 12, 2019 at 7:35 pm

    27:02 "It's not that he doesn't want to pay it, it's that he can't pay it." Next shot is of Mr Scott exiting his Mercedes Benz.

    If he can afford a Merc, he can afford to pay child support fees

  4. Jeff Mcfaniel July 12, 2019 at 7:35 pm

    If a person is running away from you and you shoot them you should be shot. End of story. Extraordinary work for helping with this

  5. manicsurfing July 12, 2019 at 7:35 pm

    1) cop showed no remorse after incident
    2) shot multiple times
    3) the taser was still tethered to the cops location when the perp ran, demonstrating the perp did not have possession.
    4) clearly the cop considered planting the taser

    Communities need to be more involved in the process of who is policing them rather than the norm being perpetuated.

  6. amazonia20 July 12, 2019 at 7:35 pm

    Riddle me this – ok so the cop didn't see the taser being thrown, pulled his gun & shots the guy who is running away because he 'fears for his life'. After shooting him fatally he hand-cuffs him he then goes back picks up the taser and throws it next to the body, sees that he is being filmed and picks it up again. Generally, when you lose something you look for it, no? Where was the looking for the taser? If someone is running AWAY from you how are you in danger? If someone is running from you doesn't that make YOU the aggressor? People of nervous dispositions shouldn't be cops! You're afraid that someone is running AWAY FROM YOU! You can't help anybody if your that afraid!!!

  7. karakol86 July 12, 2019 at 7:35 pm

    The lawyer seems slimy. Paid or not getting paid. The lawyer is making the kid takes sides destroying the kids academic orientation for the project.

  8. Alex K. July 12, 2019 at 7:35 pm

    No one cares what the cop "thought". The fact is the video and in this video, an unarmed black man fleeing was shot multiple times in the back by a dirty cop who shot to kill, not to stop. Of course Trumpeters saw things differently.

  9. Tommy Beauchene July 12, 2019 at 7:35 pm

    Great work on you buddy!

  10. Tommy Beauchene July 12, 2019 at 7:35 pm

    Still sad to see this video. Better training.

  11. A Mouse July 12, 2019 at 7:35 pm

    Walter Scott fired the taser at the cop and it hit him in the legs, this is why you can see the lines tangled around the cops legs

  12. sanantohomie July 12, 2019 at 7:35 pm

    So essentially the cop thought the black man had a taser on him still…. thanks for admitting that TASERS are actually DEADLY weapons, the cops know this, but they still deploy and kill innocent people with TASERS all the time!!! Of course he shot, he didn't want to be killed with his own TASER!

  13. Du Riechst So Gut July 12, 2019 at 7:35 pm

    I’m 7:48 in and no mention of the taser prongs being deployed when the taser was thrown. So I’d say maybe the cop thought he still had it and shot him

  14. jojokintel July 12, 2019 at 7:35 pm

    All the bad times I have had at the hands of blacks:

    I have been held down in my apt while two men in scream masks have robbed me
    I have had my car window broken while I was inside the car
    I have had one draw out his gun and point it at me
    I had one follow me around school, closing doors before I could reach them. I was invited to a house that he lived in, I was pulled up by my hair off the couch
    I had my friend taken advantage of on the street in front of me (he was robbed of whatever he had on him)’
    I had some ”christmas" balls thrown towards me and my companions and then we had to talk them down from getting in a fight with us
    I saw a Mexican who was backed into a corner by three, and he was saved by his female friend
    I had one jerk at me as I was walking down the street in front of his friends (3 months ago)
    I had one who followed me for about 5 blocks
    I had a group of four of them, maybe 13 years old, approach me and my friend and ask for money so that we were able to pass the street we were on in Paris. I noticed one of them had a hammer
    I watched my female friend have a kiss raped from her (Cuba)
    I was driving with my parents and my father yelled “STOP” while we were at a green light, I watched a car with blacks cruising through a red light
    I had some kids throw some rocks at my car
    I heard of a gang rape from a older woman I met. She was on vacation in Jamaica when three blacks broke into her cottage and raped her
    I have been confronted by one who told me that he was a police officer. I had to drop my car into gear to get away

    And the same amount of financial stuff

  15. 302ghosthunter July 12, 2019 at 7:35 pm

    Dumbacrats are the party of the Klan of course they hate Jews and love ghettos.

  16. Jago Gonzalez July 12, 2019 at 7:35 pm

    This scenario did not need deadly force plain and simple. Scumbag cops like this need to be held accountable.

  17. Jago Gonzalez July 12, 2019 at 7:35 pm

    These scumbag cops are waaaayyyy too trigger happy. They shouldn't even be in the force if they feel that fraightened by everything.

  18. Pablo123456x July 12, 2019 at 7:35 pm

    This channel is exactly like Vice or Vox.

    Except that this one has interesting content on relevant issues and is not presented by hipsters with fry vocal and upward tone thing.

  19. anonymous abominable July 12, 2019 at 7:35 pm

    Staged

  20. Sage Bias July 12, 2019 at 7:35 pm

    I changed my mind as well. Scott fled from the cars, and got in a fist fight with the cop. Slager thought Scott took the taser and that is why he shot Scott.

  21. 96fps_from_mars July 12, 2019 at 7:35 pm

    Is this a reupload?

  22. Autumnskyes July 12, 2019 at 7:35 pm

    A Benedict Arnold is someone who betrays one side for another. If this kid was no trying to play sides by why he called this? If one finds evidence contrary to popular belief why should he be judged for that. It is extremely difficult to be neutral in cases like this. I think this video did a good job at explaining the flaws in the system. A man making $10K a year trying to pay child support. NOt saying a father and mother aren't obligated where a kids is concerned. However there are backstories to everyone involved.

  23. CitizenFoffie July 12, 2019 at 7:35 pm

    3:94

  24. Pedro Lopez July 12, 2019 at 7:35 pm

    Isn't those the classic America's Funniest Videos?

  25. Pedro Eiras July 12, 2019 at 7:35 pm

    He says it perfectly towards the end. A system in which a poor, unemployed man has to live in fear of being arrested at a traffic stop because of 6 months of unpaid child support is broken. What comes next is a ripple effect in which truth is so complicated it becomes almost non-existent. This is America.

  26. Coletha Albert July 12, 2019 at 7:35 pm

    This was MURDER. Then the black cop ran the dead man's pockets. Why didn't you show THAT.

  27. Lovely Hawaiian July 12, 2019 at 7:35 pm

    The real world. Grey, not black and white.

  28. ABC July 12, 2019 at 7:35 pm

    This was strangely riveting.

  29. alex Kominski July 12, 2019 at 7:35 pm

    Police put them selves in harms-way everyday if you comply with police don't you have to PAY THE PRICE

  30. Anon Id July 12, 2019 at 7:35 pm

    This guy has extremely positive morals and I commend him for it. He did an amazing job and should be known for it!

  31. Traci Baxter July 12, 2019 at 7:35 pm

    My heart goes out to Daniel. He got sucked down that rabbit hole & seems to have been abandoned & stuck there. I admire his tenacity in stuggling to know the intrinsic complexities of how this incident unfolded. His tireless effort is much appreciated unfortunately it seems to have resulted in no definitive answers or explanations.

  32. Storm&Cloud July 12, 2019 at 7:35 pm

    Police officers need to held accountable for their actions. They're not the Military dealing with enemy combatants.They are police officers and they're dealing with civilians.

  33. MARK MAHAN July 12, 2019 at 7:35 pm

    There was no reason to shoot to kill! There were multiple actions available to the murderer with a badge. He could of called for backup. He could of used this back up to stop the murdered man from running. He could have used law enforcement tools to track down where the suspect lived. He could have shot the man in a leg. He could have cased him down. He could have tried to talk and de-escalte. He could have not stopped the man in the first place and used the licence plat info to send a warning ticket. The lists of things he could have done is nearly countless. But murdering for a traffic stop is not one of them.

  34. Telebubbies July 12, 2019 at 7:35 pm

    The extremely rare cases where cops do make bad decisions like this is why people get mad when cops (like the two in sacramento who were not charged) looks bad when they use lethal force in self defense

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