A federal judge has agreed to push back the trial date for a former North Charleston police officer accused of civil rights violations in the shooting of Walter Scott last year.
District Judge David Norton on Tuesday continued the trial for Michael Slager into the first quarter of 2017, after his state murder trial is expected to finish. The federal case involves charges that Slager violated civil rights law, used a firearm while violating civil rights law and obstructed justice. He could face life in prison for the federal charges alone.
The state trial is scheduled to begin October 31. Slager is accused of shooting a fleeing Scott in the back following a traffic stop struggle. Slager has insisted he only fired after Scott had gotten control of his Taser during the struggle.
Slager’s attorneys said the Justice Department has provided little in the way of discovery for the federal case, instead relying on the state’s prosecutors for the earlier trial. Judge Norton also noted that defense attorney Andy Savage was representing him in both trials.
Justice Department prosecutors on Tuesday requested a list of witnesses Slager’s defense team plans to call during the trial, along with any documents that will be used as evidence and tests conducted by their expert witnesses. Slager’s team have argued in previous filings some of those tests found Scott had cocaine and alcohol in his bloodstream at the time of the shooting, which they claim would support the officer’s account of what happened.
Slager did not attend Tuesday’s hearing. Members of Scott’s family were present, but they did not speak to reporters afterwards.