Prosecutor: Officer who killed Walter Scott went 'too far'


usatoday.com

CHARLESTON, S.C. — Former North Charlestonpolice officer Michael Slager should be convicted of murder "for his decision to go to far" the day he shot Walter Scott, an unarmed black man who ran from a traffic stop, a prosecutor said Thursday.
"We are here to bring accountability to Michael Slager for his choices, for his decision to go too far, for his decision to let his sense of authority get the better of him," prosecutor Scarlett Wilson told a jury in her opening statement. "For his decision to shoot an unarmed man in the back five times."
Slager, who is white, was fired and arrested within days of the April 4, 2015, shooting. A jury of six white men, five white women and one black man was selected this week to determine his fate.
Wilson said Slager stopped Scott because one of six taillights on Scott's 1991 Mercedes wasn't working. She said Scott ran from the stop because he knew a records search would show he owed back child support and feared he would be sent to "debtors' prison."
"He lost his life for his foolishness," Wilson said. "He should have been prosecuted for it. He should not have been killed for it."
Slager has said Scott had attempted to grab Slager's stun gun. Wilson argued that the stun gun would have done the fleeing Scott no good. She said that after shooting Scott, Slager was more interested in self-preservation than in tending to Scott's wounds. Slager, unaware that a passerby was recording the confrontation on a cellphone, attempted to "stage" the scene to make it appear the shooting was self-defense.
Slager's lawyer, Andy Savage, said the prosecutor's claim that Scott ran to avoid debtors' prison was speculation.
"He didn't just run," Savage said. "He physically and forcefully resisted to the point where they were fighting on the ground."
Savage stressed that the burden of proof was on the prosecution. He urged jurors to ignore all the media coverage the case has received, and to consider only the evidence brought into court. He said Slager had earned a reputation of "excellence" as a patrolman, and thus was working the city's most crime-ridden area.
Late Wednesday, after the jury panel was finalized, Judge Clifton Newman heard a series of outstanding motions. The prosecution accused the defense team of using its strikes against potential jurors in a racially motivated way.
The defense used nine of its 10 allocated strikes, objections that eliminate a potential juror from the roster. Seven were on minorities.
Savage gave legal reasoning for strikes and prosecution dropped its challenge.
Newman denied a defense request to dismiss the indictment against Slager.
The defense argued that charging Slager in state court violates constitutional protections against double jeopardy. Slager — a white officer fired from the North Charleston police four days after the April 4, 2015, death — also faces trial next year in federal court on several charges, including violating Scott’s civil rights.
The judge also denied a defense motion to move the trial out of Charleston County. During a hearing on that motion, when Savage briefly took the witness stand to testify, lawyers argued that pretrial publicity makes it impossible for Slager to get a fair trial in Charleston.
Savage said media coverage in the Charleston area has been incomplete.
“That’s not to say it was false but incomplete,” Savage said. He has argued that the brief clip of the shooting seen worldwide does not show the fight between Scott and Slager before the shots were fired.
The images of Slager repeatedly shooting Scott in the back as he tried to run away, recorded on a cellphone by a bystander, have inspired many others to record encounters with police since then, and both officer-involved shootings and slayings of police have only drawn more attention.
Newman denied the motion, noting all the newly seated jurors have said they can put aside what they have heard about the case and give a verdict based on the evidence.
The court did not immediately take up another motion to keep the cellphone video out of the trial.
Prosecutor: Officer who killed Walter Scott went 'too far' Prosecutor: Officer who killed Walter Scott went 'too far' Reviewed by Usa Tv on November 03, 2016 Rating: 5

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