The trial of a White former police officer captured on dramatic cellphone video shooting an unarmed Black motorist began Monday at the county courthouse in Charleston’s historic district.
The first of almost 200 potential jurors began reporting for duty, with individual jury questioning set to begin later in the day. The jurors seated will have to decide if 34-year-old Michael Slager is guilty of murder in the shooting death of 50-year-old Walter Scott as he ran from a traffic stop in April 2015. If convicted Slager faces 30 years to life imprisonment.
Court officials say jury selection is expected to take at least two days and the trial could then last two to three weeks.
Jury selection is also being held this week in a similar case in Cincinnati, Ohio. Ray Tensing is charged with murder and voluntary manslaughter in the July 2015 shooting of Sam DuBose, who was pulled over for a missing license plate. In the South Carolina case, Scott was pulled over for having a broken taillight.
The shootings are among a series nationwide in cities including Ferguson, Missouri, and Charlotte, North Carolina, that have renewed the debate over how blacks are treated by law enforcement officials.
Slager’s attorneys say there is far more to the story than the short video clip of the shooting, which was taken by a bystander and then seen around the world via the internet. The clip in its entirety, the attorneys, also shows a struggle between the two men before the shooting and Slager warning Scott that he will shoot.