An ex-police officer accused of killing an African-American individual who tried to flee after being stopped for traffic violation was indicted by a grand jury in South Carolina.
The prosecutor in the case, Scarlett Wilson, said in a press conference that North Charleston officer Michael Slager could be sentenced to 30 years in prison. According to Fox News, the date for Slager’s trial has not been decided yet.
The encounter that led to the police officer’s indictment occurred on April 4, when Slager stopped African-American Walter Scott for driving with a broken taillight in North Charleston, South Carolina’s third largest city. A video footage obtained from Slager’s patrol car, which recorded the first few minutes of the traffic stop, showed a routine interaction between the two.
However, Scott attempted to flee the scene, with Slager giving him a chase. A brief scuffle over Slager’s Taser ensued after Slager caught up with Scott, and Scott turned away and started running away once again. Slager fired eight times, with some of the bullets striking Scott in his back.
On April 7, Slager was taken into custody and was charged with murder.
A cellphone footage captured by a bystander showed Scott running away from Slager when he was shot. The evidence affected Slager’s arrest, according to the police.
South Carolina Law Enforcement Division initially covered the investigation; the evidence was then sent to the grand jury.
The video gave rise to demonstrations across the country. It was yet another case of a white police officer abusing an African-American individual, following the deaths of Michael Brown in Ferguson and of Eric Garner in Staten Island.
Slager and Clarence W. Habersham, the first officer to arrive at the scene following the incident, were also accused for not providing adequate medical attention to Scott, as reported by The New York Times.
At the news conference, Wilson said, “The facts that were presented to us by SLED warranted a Grand Jury.”
After the indictment was declared, Scott’s brother said that his family was “happy and pleased” with the decision.
“If you just keep the faith, even in the darkest times, you will see the light,” an attorney representing the Scott family said.
The attorney further added that, in addition to the indictment, they also intend to file a civil lawsuit in the coming few months. However, any details regarding a possible suit have not been released yet.
According to ABC News, Slager’s attorney Andy Savage said, “The [Grand Jury] is a formal step, but just another step in the criminal process. Until we have an opportunity to fully evaluate the State’s case and to compare it with our own investigation we will not be commenting on any aspect of the case.”
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