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Tuesday, June 18, 2024 | Back issues
Courthouse News Service Courthouse News Service

Jury Selection Begins in |S.C. Police Shooting Trial

(CN) - Jury selection began Monday morning in the trial of a former South Carolina police officer captured on video shooting an unarmed black man to death following a traffic stop.

Michael Slager, 34, was a North Charleston police officer when he pulled over 50-year-old Walter Scott on a Saturday afternoon in April 2015.

A dashcam video shot from Slager's cruiser captured a routine traffic stop until Scott suddenly ran from his vehicle.

Slager caught up to him in a nearby park. Jurors selected beginning on Monday will have to determine whether what transpired after that was murder.

In the immediate aftermath of the shooting, Slager said he shot Scott in self-defense after the fleeing man turned on him and grabbed his Taser.

Slager said the two struggled and that he fired on Scott because he feared for his life.

But just two days later, a cellphone video shot by a passerby on his way to work shocked the nation and appeared to completely contradict Slager's story.

The video shows Scott continuing to run from Slager, and the officer shooting him several times in the back from a distance of 10 to 20 feet.

The video also appears to show Slager walking over and dropping his Taser next to Scott's body.

Attorneys for Slager will argue that the young man who shot the cellphone video simply did not arrive at the scene until after the critical altercation had ended, and that the key to the entire incident falls somewhere between what the dashcam captured and what the cellphone video caught.

Potential jurors from a pool of just under 200 Charleston-area residents began reporting to the courthouse in downtown Charleston by 8:30 a.m. The selection of the jury is expected to take two days, with the questioning of individual jurors scheduled to begin Monday afternoon.

The trial itself is expected to last two-to-three weeks.

If convicted, Slager faced 30 years to life in prison.

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