CHARLESTON, SC (WCSC) - The North Charleston police chief testified in the trial of one of his former officers accused in the shooting death of a man who fled a traffic stop.
Chief Eddie Driggers testified that he was not aware of Michael Slager, who is charged with murder in the April 4, 2015 death of motorist Walter Scott, ever being reprimanded by the department for misuse of force, misuse of his stun gun or misuse of his service revolver.
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Driggers called Slager "a very good officer" and that he could recall receiving only one complaint about him.
The last witness the defense called was Darren Porcher, a former New York police officer and an expert on the use of force.
Porcher said Slager's use of a Taser in the incident was sound judgment since Scott did not comply with the officer. Porcher said he reviewed Slager's use of force over the five years Slager spent with the NCPD and never found anything inappropriate.
According to Porcher, the use of force is based off the situation the officer finds himself in. The defense argued Slager was patrolling solo in a high crime area and didn't have de-escalation training.
In cross-examination, the state argued that Slager used a taser in 14 other incidents and Porcher didn't interview the people that were tased for his testimony.
The defense also called North Charleston police Sgt. Ronald Webb to the stand. Webb said he was Slager's supervisor for six months before the shooting and was one of the officers who responded to the scene after the shooting. Webb said he took Slager's gun from him as soon as he arrived on the scene to protect evidence and said the weapon was returned to Slager after Webb's own supervisor arrived.
Webb said Slager seemed "out of it" and did not seem to be fully aware of what was going on.
"I don't know what it would be like to be in shock but I could talk to him he would yes and no," Webb said. "I don't think he was fully paying attention or focusing on what I was saying."
He testified that Slager got "a pretty good appraisal" about four months before the incident and that Slager did what was required for a North Charleston officer. Webb said he didn't recall Slager ever missing any training or being late for duty.
He said once he was called to a traffic stop Slager had made and the motorist was so irate he was pulled over that it took three officers to calm him down. He did not give any more details about that traffic stop.
The defense in the case contends that Slager and Scott wrestled on the ground and Scott stunned Slager with the officer's Taser.
Scott was shot five times in the back as he fled from a traffic stop. The shooting was captured by a bystander on a widely-seen cellphone video. Slager was fired and charged after that video was made public.
Among the witnesses called to the stand Tuesday morning was an expert in forensic pathology who testified about cocaine being present in Scott's system during the incident.
After an objection from the prosecution, Judge Clifton Newman decided that Dr. Thomas Owens would not be allowed to speculate that Scott was a chronic cocaine user or that he could have been under an "excited delirium" during his exchange with Slager.
The judge reminded the court that while cocaine was found in Scott's system, that doesn't mean he was under the influence of cocaine the day of the shooting.
Earlier, defense witness Dr. Thomas Owens, the chief medical examiner in Mecklenburg County, North Carolina, testified that autopsy photos showed Scott's body showed signs of a struggle shortly before he was shot. Owens said abrasions and bruises on Scott's hands, wrists, face and head were consistent with having been in a struggle. The jury was shown autopsy photos showing the injuries.
The trial is expected to continue for at least two more weeks. The defense has more witnesses and could rest by the middle of next week.
Court is expected to recess for the week at noon on Wednesday. Court will not be in session on Thanksgiving Day or on Black Friday.
Slager faces 30 years to life if convicted.