South Carolina police officer Michael Slager, who was caught on camera shooting and killed an unarmed man as he fled, then walking up and dropping a taser near his body, only for him to report that the victim tried to take it away from him, was indicted for murder by a grand jury earlier today.
Slager, who was fired from the North Charleston Police Department shortly after the video went public in April, is still in jail and so far, his attorneys have made no request for bail, according to the New York Times.
A trial date has not been set but Slager faces between to 30 years to life in prison if convicted.
And while we should expect the usual “officer safety” arguments to justify the killing of Walter Scott, the 50-year-old man pulled over for a broken tail light before he fled to avoid going to jail on unpaid child support payments, it is going be almost impossible to present that argument without being laughed out of court because of the video.
The video, recorded by a man named Feidin Santana who was walking to work that day, was not published online until several days after the April 4th incident.
Prior to that, the North Charleston Police Department gave the usual spiel that Slager was in fear for his life, so naturally, he had the right to kill Scott.
Once the video surfaced, Slager’s attorney withdrew from his face, the cop was fired from his job and was charged with murder within hours – almost an anomaly when it comes to these shootings where the cops are usually placed on paid administrative leave for months in the hopes the public forgets about it.
So far, the second North Charleston police officer who responded to the incident, Clarence W. Habersham, who seemed to go along with Slager’s story, has not been charged or disciplined.
Scott owed $18,000 in child support. A 2009 study indicated that one-eighth of all inmates in South Carolina were incarcerated for failing to pay child support payments.