By Stephen Kanyi
Feidin Santana will be awarded the Civic Engagement Award and also given a monetary grant. The 23-year-old was responsible for the recording and release of the Walter Scott shooting. His footage played a key role in charging Michael Slager for murder.
Before the video was released, Slager had provided a misleading report concerning the incident, one that would surely get him off the hook. In his report, he claimed that Scott tried to grab his Taser. This then led to a struggle, which made him shoot Scott, allegedly in self-defense. However, the video provided by Santana showed that there was no struggle between the two, and Scott did not even come close to the police officer.
Slager was seen shooting at Scott eight times as the man ran away from the officer. While Scott was face down on the ground, Slager placed something that looked like a Taser close to the body, presumably in order for the scene of the crime to collaborate with his false report.
Santana was at the scene and recorded the whole thing on his mobile phone. In an interview with the Morning Joe, he said that being in possession of the video made him fear for his life. He considered leaving North Charleston and forgetting about the incident. However, he stayed and first took the video to the police. He decided not to submit the video to the police, as he saw the officers who worked with Slager at the station. He finally submitted the video to the Scott family, who released it to the public.
Santana will be the third person to receive The Los Angeles Urban Policy Roundtable’s Civic Engagement Award for meritorious service. The first was given to David Diez, who filmed a video of the Marlene Pinnock beating by a California Highway Patrol officer in July 2014, which secured justice for Pinnock. The other was awarded in October 2014 to attorney Jody Westby, who intervened to halt a racial profiling harassment incident by a Washington D.C police officer.
On Saturday, Los Angeles Urban Policy Roundtable President Earl Ofari Hutchinson gave the announcement. Huchinson said, “Given the deadly seriousness of police violence and misconduct as a national issue of deep concern, Mr. Santana, at great and continuing risk to his safety, performed an honorable act in confronting and publicly exposing a horrendous act of police violence.”
He further stated, “The award honors him for his courageous act. But the award is also given to serve as inspiration and encouragement to other citizens to responsible, proactive engagement and involvement in reporting on, disclosing, and challenging alleged wrongdoing, misconduct and citizen abuse by police, public officials and employees.”