Local attorney says timing of Slager's federal indictment is not typical

VIDEO: Local attorney says timing of Slager's federal indictment is not typical

CHARLESTON COUNTY, SC (WCSC) - Federal charges against Michael Slager were handed down Tuesday, made public Wednesday, more than a year after Walter Scott was shot and killed.

To local defense attorney Robert Robbins says this case hasn't followed a typical sequence of events.

"There's going to be two bites at the apple from the government side of things," Robbins said.

Former North Charleston police officer Michael Slager faces a murder charge from the state for the shooting death of Walter Scott that happened in April 2015.

So Robbins said, at this point in the game, the federal charges aren't common.

"Well it was hard to believe initially," Robbins said. "I think it is making a statement from the Justice Department angle that they are not going to sit idly by, while state prosecutions go on."

Michael Slager faces a civil rights charge that carries up to life in prison. He faces an obstruction charge that carries up to 20 years in prison.

And, he faces a weapons charge that carries up to 10 years in prison.

"So take this as the time of change," Scott family attorney L. Chris Stewart said. "Walter Scott did not die in vain."

Walter Scott's family and attorneys spoke in a press conference after the news of the federal charges.

"If it wasn't for someone brave to stand up and video tape this officer doing this injustice to this young man, would we even be here today?" Walter Scott's brother Anthony Scott said. "I say no."

The cell phone video released just after the shooting is the reason the Scott family says they are where they are today.

But, Robbins questions if these federal charges imply there could be more evidence.

"Is there other evidence out there that tells this story in greater detail than what we have seen that was captured by the bystander?" Robbins said.

As Slager is set to face two separate jurisdictions, Robbins urges the public to wait.

"The case needs to be tried in the courtroom," Robbins said. "Evidence needs to be presented and jury will make a decision based on that evidence and everybody needs to withhold judgment until that happens. That's what the American system is all about."

Slager has pleaded not guilty to the federal charges and the state murder charge.

Michael Slager is currently out of jail on a $500,000 bond.

The judge allowed him to remain free on that bond.

Slager's attorneys released a statement saying "the indictment was an unprecedented step by the Department of Justice."

Slager's state trial is set for October 31.

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