Slager sues police group for failing to defend him in murder case

Attorneys discussed the process to declare former North Charleston police officer Michael Slager indigent, thus making him eligible for state-funded legal assistance during a Dec. 23, 2015 hearing. His attorneys want help paying for expert witnesses.

CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCIV) — The former North Charleston police officer charged with murder in the shooting of Walter Scott is suing the Police Benevolent Association for failing to defend him in the case.

The lawsuit was filed earlier this month and alleges the PBA breached its contract with Slager. Slager is seeking unspecified damages.

According to the lawsuit, Slager paid a monthly fee that would cover him in case of any legal issues that arose in connection to his service as a North Charleston police officer.

Along with the pending murder trial, Slager is also included in three lawsuits claiming he used excessive force in traffic stops during his time as an officer, the most recent of which was filed this month.

However, Slager claims the organization walked away from him after the cellphone video showing the video surfaced and murder charges were announced. His coverage through the PBA insurance program entitled him to “any duty related shooting or action which results in death or serious injury,” the lawsuit states.

Slager has pleaded not guilty and remains in an isolation cell at the Charleston County Detention Center after being denied bond.

Defense attorney David Aylor initially represented Slager, and released a statement calling the incident “very tragic” but said “Slager believes he followed all the proper procedures and policies of the North Charleston Police Department.”

Then, moments before the video was release, Aylor recused himself from the case.

According to Slager’s lawsuit, he asked the PBA for another attorney but they turned him down, citing a clause that would allow the organization to deny services for an officer that intentionally violated civil or criminal law.

“The Association will not provided [sic] legal defense benefit coverage as described in this policy to any member accused of criminal involvement where the member either admits such involvement or where, in the opinion of the Association CEO, there exists sufficient evidence of such involvement that providing such coverage could bring discredit to the Association and/or the law enforcement profession,” the PBA response to Slager’s lawsuit reads.

After Aylor left the case, noted Charleston defense attorney Andy Savage picked up the case pro bono, and said in court proceedings before Christmas that his firm had spent at least $100,000 on legal services for Slager.

Slager has also been deemed indigent as his legal team seeks public funding for securing the testimony of expert witnesses as they prepare the case.

Currently, there is no trial date for Slager, who has spent the last eight months in a cell on the same wing as accused Emanuel AME shooter Dylann Roof. Because of an order of protection in that case, it’s possible Slager won’t go to trial before November 2016, some 18 months after his arrest.

Categories: State