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Attorneys accusing investigators of purposely withholding knowledge of Walter Scott video

Michael Slager. (Source: WCSC) Michael Slager. (Source: WCSC)
Defense attorney Andy Savage (Source: WCSC) Defense attorney Andy Savage (Source: WCSC)
NORTH CHARLESTON, SC (WCSC) -

Former North Charleston Police officer Michael Slager's attorney is accusing State Law Enforcement Division agents of purposely withholding knowledge of videos of the Walter Scott shooting.

The accusation came out during a hearing Friday afternoon.

Slager is charged with murder in the shooting death of Scott after a traffic stop in April of last year. Slager's state trial is scheduled to start on Oct. 31. 

The lead agent in Slager's case testified on Friday that it was part of her strategy not to mention the two cell phone videos during her first interview with the ex-cop.

Angela Peterson said when she learned the videos were going to be leaked to the media she showed them to Slager.

In addition, several North Charleston police officers who responded to the scene after the shooting testified Slager had run the same version of events.

In essence they said Slager told them Scott grabbed his taser and pointed it at him. Slager says he stepped back, shuffle stepped and fired his gun.

Andy Savage, Slager's attorney, also claimed in court that the police department didn't have enough officers on duty in the area the morning of the shooting. 

He said because it happened in Charleston Farms, one of the highest crime areas, there should have been more officers in the area. 

Savage said if that was the case, the shooting wouldn't have happened.

Savage claimed there was no backup for Slager after he radioed that he was in a foot pursuit with Scott. 

The first officer to get to the scene was an off duty cop. Other police officers then showed up and asked him if we was okay and then asked him what happened. 

Slager said Scott grabbed his taser after a struggle and pointed it at him, and that's when Slager backed up and shot Scott.

The judge also ruled on Friday that the video capturing Scott's shooting can be used in trial if prosecutors wished to use it. 

The video of the shooting was released on April 7, three days after the shooting incident, the same day Slager was arrested. Attorneys had argued viewers of the bystander video "could not be reasonably expected to shut from sight," because the video, they say, contains "profoundly inculpatory information out of context and in a manner guaranteed to sear prejudice into the brains of the viewers."

They also argued that the earliest portion of the video, which they say contains footage showing a fight between Slager and Scott, is "blurry and indistinct," and as a result, is rarely shown. 

"Instead, the last eight seconds of the video depicting the shooting is shown absent the context of the altercation," a motion stated.

"Add to that the misperception of the civil settlement by most of the public, and the unwillingness of the City [of North Charleston] to share any rationale for settling, other than a desire to keep public order, and you have a toxic stew of half-truths, misperceptions and false narratives in which this venire has been steeping since April 7, 2015," the motion states.

The defense argues those factors lead to the public perception that Slager was at fault.

The judge was also expected to decide whether Slager's upcoming trial should move out of Charleston, but did not make a ruling on Friday. 

The defense team had submitted the motion requesting the trial be moved out of Charleston.

In the motion, they cite the widely-seen video shot by the bystander that captured the April 4, 2015, shooting of Scott, and the fact that the City of North Charleston settled a lawsuit with Scott's family for $6.5 million.

The prosecution responded Thursday to another defense motion that seeks to prohibit some statements Slager made after the shooting. In their motion, prosecutors say statements Slager reportedly made to fellow officers at the scene of the shooting and to state police several days later should be allowed in court, adding Slager made the statements voluntarily.

Copyright 2016 WCSC. All rights reserved. 

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