Ex-Cop Faces Federal Charges Over S.C. Death

(CN) – A white, former North Charleston, S.C., police officer charged with murder after the shooting death of an unarmed black motorist last year was indicted Wednesday on multiple federal charges.
     An indictment unsealed Wednesday morning charges Michael Slager with obstruction of justice, unlawful use of a weapon during the commission of a crime, and depriving the victim, Walter Scott, of his civil rights.
     Slager already faced states murder charges in the shooting death of Scott, an incident that became notorious after a bystander video emerged showing the 50 year old being shot eight times in the back as he ran from Slager during a traffic stop in April 2015.
     Slager has said what the video doesn’t show is a struggle between the two men in which Scott momentarily had control of the officer’s Taser.
     Slager was charged with murder after the video became public. He was also immediately fired by the North Charleston Police Department.
     He was held in solitary confinement until January, when a lengthy delay in his trial date caused by scheduling of the murder trial of alleged Charleston church gunman Dylann Roof prompted a state court judge to release him on $500,000 bond, and placed him under house arrest at an undisclosed location.
     Slager’s state trial is set to begin this fall, and he faces a possible life sentence without parole. Prosecutors have asked for the trial to be moved up to August or back to May 2017 to give Solicitor Scarlett Wilson time to prepare for Roof’s trial, which is now set for January.
     If convicted on the federal charges, Slager faces a maximum sentence of 1ife in prison for the civil rights violation, as well as a potential $250,000 fine.
     In a written statement, Slager’s attorney, Andy Savage said “this is an unprecedented step by the Department of Justice. It seems very extreme and the timing is very interesting. It really feels as if Officer Slager is carrying the burden of many past cases that were handled differently.
     “Needless to say, today’s indictment is very concerning to Michael,” Savage continued. “However, he continues to remain grateful for the evidence that exists and at this point still has faith in our justice system and its processes. He believes that when all the facts can be presented in their complete form, the truth will be heard and at that time many can begin to heal.”

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