INDICTMENTS, INVESTIGATIONS, ETC.
|| By FITSNEWS || South carolina solicitor Scarlett Wilson will pursue a murder indictment against former North Charleston, S.C. police officer Michael Slager in the aftermath of last week’s fatal shooting of 50-year-old Walter Scott.
Wilson’s office is working closely with the S.C. State Law Enforcement Division (SLED) – the agency that’s been tasked with reviewing the case.
“My role is to hold accountable those who harm others unlawfully, regardless of profession,” Wilson said in a statement. “This office does not dictate nor comment upon police policy, training and procedure. I am, however, deeply concerned when those who are sworn to serve and protect violate the public’s trust. It is extremely important to me that I be open and transparent with the public about the legal proceedings and the continuing investigation into this matter.”
SLED has already conducted several interviews with officers who responded to the shooting – which was on the verge of being swept under the rug until an amateur video of the incident was made public.
Prior to the release of the video, North Charleston police claimed Scott was gunned down by Slager because he posed a legitimate threat to the officer’s safety – having engaged in a scuffle with Slager which resulting in him obtaining the officer’s taser weapon. Police also said Scott was fatally shot following a “foot pursuit” and that officers attempted cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) in an attempt to revive him.
While the video depicted what appears to have been a minor scuffle, the rest of the police narrative turned out to be highly suspect – if not completely fabricated.
There was no “foot pursuit” – nor does it appear as though Scott ever had complete possession of Slager’s taser.
Nor were any attempts made to revive Scott – who died of multiple gunshot wounds to the back after Slager fired eight rounds at him as he fled.
Appearing on CNN early Thursday, S.C. State Senator Marlon Kimpson said “discrepancies” between police accounts and video evidence of shooting incidents was a national problem – one disproportionally impacting black victims.
The video of the North Charleston shooting was taken by 23-year-old Feidin Santana – who was walking to work when he came upon Slager and Scott. While Santana said he “knew right away” that he had “something on my hands,” he almost didn’t release the clip.
“I felt that my life, with this information, might be in danger,” he told MSNBC. “I thought about erasing the video and just getting out of the community, you know, Charleston, and living someplace else.”
We’re glad he decided not to do that …
As for the investigation Santana’s video has spawned, SLED spokesman Thom Berry told FITS the agency is “interviewing everyone who was there” in an effort to find answers.
That includes the nine police officers who responded “within minutes” to the shooting.
How long will the probe take?
“There’s not any specific timetable we just want to make sure it’s done thoroughly and fairly,” Berry said.
Berry also said reports indicating the imminent release of the dash-cam video of the traffic stop leading up to shooting were inaccurate, and that SLED had not received authorization to release that information.
It’s believed that the dashcam video will provide information about what preceded the shooting – a chain of events which began when Slager pulled Scott over on Saturday morning for having a broken tail light.
In other news, Slager’s new attorney – Andy Savage of Charleston, S.C. – blistered the officer’s previous legal counsel David Aylor, who decided against representing Slager once the video became public.
“As we focus in on the facts, we will probably have more to say, but it is far too early for us to be saying what we think,” Savage said. “Slager’s previous counsel fell into that trap and we have no intention of doing our client further harm.”
Aylor said Savage’s comment was “a deflection.”