On April 4, then-South Carolina officer Michael Slager gunned down a fleeing Walter Scott (who was unarmed) during a traffic stop.
A witness caught the shocking incident on video, which showed Slager shoot at Scott eight times as the man ran away. Initially Slager claimed he fired because he “feared for his life” after Scott took his stun gun.
The video evidence surfaced a few days after the shooting occurred, and Slager was charged with murder by state law enforcement agents and fired from the police force immediately.
Yesterday, prosecutor Scarlett Wilson announced that a grand jury has indicted Slager, affirming the state’s murder charge against the former officer. Wilson said that despite the intense publicity surrounding the shooting, she believes a local jury could be impaneled and would be able to reach an unbiased verdict. A trial date has not been set.
Under South Carolina law, there is only a single murder charge, which Wilson described as being an “unlawful killing with malice aforethought” — with the premeditation required to exist for only a few seconds before a killing in order to gain a conviction.
The New York Times uncovered some information on Slager’s history as an officer:
Mr. Slager had been the subject of two formal complaints, including one for excessive force after he used his Taser while he pursued a burglary suspect.
The city cleared Mr. Slager of wrongdoing in that 2013 case, but the man involved in the episode, Mario Givens, has been among those to announce since Mr. Scott’s death that he would pursue civil litigation against the former officer and the North Charleston authorities.
Police records obtained by The New York Times show that Mr. Slager was involved in 19 use-of-force episodes during his tenure as a police officer, including the shooting death of Mr. Scott and the encounter with Mr. Givens.
Of those 19 episodes, the records show, at least 14 involved Mr. Slager using his Taser in some manner. Mr. Scott’s shooting was the only time that Mr. Slager fired his handgun while on patrol.
This case represents at least the fourth time in less than six months that a sitting grand jury in South Carolina has agreed that white officers should stand trial in the shootings of black men, reports the AP.
Slager, 33, has been jailed since his arrest. He faces 30 years to life in prison if he is convicted.
Time will tell.
Lily Dane is a staff writer for The Daily Sheeple. Her goal is to help people to “Wake the Flock Up!”