Former North Charleston patrolman Michael Slager will not face the possibility of the death penalty in connection with the shooting of Walter Scott, according to the solicitor tasked with prosecuting his murder case.
The Charleston Post and Courier reports Charleston County’s chief prosecutor said the circumstances don’t meet the criteria necessary under South Carolina law.
Ninth Circuit Solicitor Scarlett Wilson said she reviewed the state’s death penalty statute, which lists 22 aggravating circumstances that can trigger the state to seek the death penalty. Those include murders committed during kidnapping, robbery, drug trafficking and a host of other circumstances. None applied in this case, she said.
Scott’s April 4 killing was recorded by a bystander, which led to Slager’s firing and his arrest on a murder charge. The video shows Slager firing eight shots at Scott’s back as the other man ran away from Slager following a traffic stop. Scott died after being wounded five times.
Slager is being held at the Charleston County Detention Center. With the death penalty off the table, Slager faces a potential penalty of 30 years to life in prison if convicted.
Meanwhile, new extended video from the April 4 incident that was released Monday shows what happened at the scene once other North Charleston Police officers arrived. The video recorded by the dashboard camera on Slager’s police cruiser showed the conversation between the officer and another man identified as a supervisor.
The audio shows the superior explaining to Slager about what to expect once investigators from the State Law Enforcement Division arrive. “Once they get here, it’ll be real quick,” the unidentified superior says. “They’re going to tell you that you’re going to be off for a couple days and (they’ll) come back and interview you then. They’re not going to ask you any kind of questions now. They’ll take your weapon and we’ll go from there.”
The remarks seem to indicate that state police had not spoken to Slager until after a bystander’s video of the shooting was revealed three days later. North Charleston Police Chief Eddie Driggers said last week that he did not see the video until April 7. Slager was arrested only hours after Driggers said he saw the footage for the first time.
The superior continued coaching Slager about how to prepare for the SLED interview, “When you get home, it would probably be a good idea to kind of jot down your thoughts on what happened. You know, once the adrenaline quits pumping…”
“It’s pumping,” Slager interrupts, then appears to laugh nervously.
“Oh yeah, oh yeah,” the supervisor responds.
The dashcam video also showed Slager twice telling the supervisor that he could not understand “why (Scott) took off like that.” He is also heard talking on a phone about what happened, repeating his version of events that Scott grabbed his Taser. While Slager does not say the individual’s name during the conversation, it’s believed he was talking to his wife.