S.C. Cop Charged With Murder in April Shooting

(CN) – A former North Charleston, S.C., police officer was indicted by a grand jury on Monday on a murder charge related to the April 4 shooting death of Walter Scott, an unarmed black man.
     Michael Slager was arrested three days after the shooting after a video recorded by a passerby showed him firing multiple shots at Scott, who was running away from him after a traffic stop.
     The North Charleston Police Department fired Slager immediately after his arrest, and he has been in jail ever since.
     Slager initially claimed that he had felt threatened by Scott and resorted to force only to protect himself. The video, which created a firestorm when it became public, showed that Scott was at least 15-to-20 feet away from Slager – and running away from him – when the officer began shooting.
     During a press conference on Monday Solicitor Scarlett Wilson said she expects Slager’s fate to be decided by a local jury.
     “I feel sure the people of Charleston County can decide this case,” she said.
     She also reminded reporters that the prosecution of the case “has just begun.”
     “Just because you have video in a case doesn’t mean it’s the be-all, end-all and the case is over,” she said.
     Wilson has already ruled out the death penalty for the former officer, finding that the required “aggravating circumstances” are not present in this case. If convicted on the charge he was indicted of today, Slager could face 30 years to life in prison.
     Scott’s family has said they believe their loved one attempted to feel the traffic stop because he feared he’d be arrested on charges related to unpaid child support. They also criticized Slager and another officer who responded to scene, Clarence Habersham, for apparently failing to provide Scott with sufficient medical aid.
     Slager’s attorney, Andrew Savage, described the indictment “as just another step in the process.”
     In a statement provided to Courthouse News, Savage said he and his legal team “yet to be provided with the Discovery (state’s investigation) material that we requested some time ago so we remain at a disadvantage in addressing any questions at this time. … Until we have an opportunity to fully evaluate the State’s case and to compare it with our own investigation we will not be commenting on any aspect of the case.”

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