Ex-officer Slager reaches settlement, ends lawsuit against police association

CHARLESTON, SC (WCSC) - Former North Charleston Police officer who had faced a murder charge settled a lawsuit against a police association he said should have covered his legal defense.

Michael Slager sued the Southern States Police Benevolent Association in November 2015, accusing the organization of breach of contract, bad faith and unfair insurance practices.

Slager was the officer who fatally shot Walter Scott, who fled from a traffic stop on April 4, 2015.

A court document filed Tuesday indicated the case had been settled and ordered it dismissed.

The document does not provide any details on the terms of the settlement.

Slager maintained the two scuffled and that Scott grabbed Slager's stun gun, forcing Slager to use deadly force. But after a bystander's cell phone video was released, Slager was charged with murder and terminated from the police department.

Slager's lawsuit against the police organization stated it dropped his coverage, which would have provided legal defense, without properly investigating the shooting.

According to court documents, Southern States Police Benefit Association issued a wallet card stating "for any duty-related shooting or action which results in death or serious injury, an attorney will be sent to you." The card also states assistance in criminal matters "exclude intentional criminal activity or drug-related crimes," the suit alleges.

Slager's suit stated that on April 8, four days after the shooting, and the day after his initial attorney withdrew from the case, Slager petitioned the company for new legal representation. The company denied the request, the suit states, and in a letter explained that "'upon review with your [the] case, (sic)' it would not provide benefits under the intentional acts exclusion as it had determined that Officer Slager had 'committed an intentional, deliberate and/or illegal act, either civilly or criminally.'"

Slager's attorney, however, said it was too early to determine that.

A state jury could not reach a decision on the murder charge last year. A retrial was set to take place later this year.

But that changed Wednesday when Slager entered a guilty plea to depriving Scott of his civil rights, the first count of a three-count federal indictment. As part of a plea deal, that guilty plea resulted in the other two federal charges and state charges being dropped.

Slager is awaiting a sentence on the civil rights charge.

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