Feds Indict Michael Slager on Civil Rights Violation, Lying in Walter Scott Shooting

Slager Indicted on Civil Rights Charges

WCIV FILE – A still image from a cellphone video shows former North Charleston officer Michael Slager and officer Clarence Habersham following the shooting of Walter Scott on April 4th.

CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCIV) — The white former North Charleston police officer charged with murder in the shooting death of a black man during a traffic stop in April 2015 will be arraigned in federal court Tuesday on civil rights violations.

The federal indictment unsealed Wednesday shows that Michael Slager is charged with violating Walter Scott’s civil rights for the shooting.

The indictment alleges Slager “shot Walter Scott without legal justification, willfully depriving him of the right, secured and protected by the Constitution.”

Slager also faces obstruction of justice charges after prosecutors say he lied to investigators about the shooting “with the intent to hinder, delay, and prevent the communication to a federal law enforcement officer and federal judge.”

With the indictment in hand, a warrant for Slager’s arrest was issued by U.S. Magistrate Judge Bristow Marchant on Tuesday afternoon. His arraignment is scheduled for 1:30 p.m. in the federal court building in downtown Charleston. Currently, Slager is not listed as being in custody at the Charleston County jail.

The federal charges against Slager could prove to be a second chance for a conviction against the former officer if the state murder charges do not lead to a conviction. Slager’s attorney Andy Savage has spent the last year picking apart the handling of evidence by North Charleston police and the State Law Enforcement Division — specifically trace evidence on the Slager’s Taser and gun.

Savage has said there is also more video evidence that has not been seen that will reshape the narrative on the shooting.

Most people have seen only an excerpt of the bystander video that shows Scott, 50, running from Slager as the former officer opens fire, hitting Scott in the back several times. Scott died at the scene.

If convicted in state court, Slager faces 30 years to life in prison. In January, some eight months after his arrest, Slager was released on bond. While he was in jail, someone tried to set fire to his former home in Hanahan, which led to him being held in an undisclosed location as he prepares for the state murder trial.

Currently, his state trial is set for Oct. 31, but a date change in the Dylann Roof murder trial compelled prosecutors to ask for the trial to be moved up to August. Savage is fighting the date change.

Last fall, North Charleston approved a $6.5 million civil settlement with Scott’s family.

Categories: State