Fate of Cop Who Killed Walter Scott Deliberated

Former North Charleston Police Officer Michael Slager, right, sits in a Charleston, S.C., courtroom. Grace Beahm/Post and Courier via AP, Pool, File.

A South Carolina jury began deliberating the fate of a former North Charleston police officer who fatally shot an unarmed Black motorist following a traffic stop last year.

Former officer Michael Slager testified he feared for his life when he shot and killed Walter Scott after a scuffle on April 4, 2015.

USA Today reports Slager, who is White, could spend the rest of his life in prison if convicted of murdering Scott. Slager said he pulled Scott over for a broken taillight.

While on the stand, Slager testified that Scott, 50, fled the traffic stop and attempted to wrestle away is Taser during a scuffle. He said he shot Scott out of fear for his own life.

“In my mind at that time was, people don’t run for a broken taillight. There’s always another reason,” he testified. “I don’t know why he ran. It doesn’t make any sense to me.”

He described yelling stop and “Taser! Taser! Taser!” as he caught up to Scott.

He said he shot his Taser three times, firing both sets of electric darts before using the emptied weapon near Scott’s skin in a so-called “dry stun.”

The cellphone video begins at roughly this point, showing Scott breaking away from what Slager said was their confrontation over the Taser.

“At that point I pulled my firearm and pulled the trigger,” he said. “I fired until the threat was stopped as I was trained to do.”

Slager did show remorse when cross-examined by the defense.

“My family has been destroyed by this,” he said, as tears dripped down his face. “Scott’s family has been destroyed by this. It’s horrible.”

Cellphone video captured by a witness shows Scott fleeing from Slager, who fires eight shots. Scott was struck three times in the back, once in the ear and once in the buttocks.

During Wednesday’s closing arguments, Defense Lawyer Andy Savage said his client killed Scott because he attacked him. Savage said the case sends an ominous messages to officers that they can face murder charges for life and death decisions made “in the heat of battle.”