Prosecutors rest case as sentencing hearing for ex-cop Michael Slager continues

Sketch of testimony at Monday's Michael Slager sentencing hearing. (Source: Robert Maniscalco)
Sketch of testimony at Monday's Michael Slager sentencing hearing. (Source: Robert Maniscalco)

CHARLESTON, SC (WCSC) - The federal sentencing hearing for Michael Slager, the former North Charleston police officer who shot and killed Walter Scott in 2015, went into its second day as prosecutors rested their case with the defense calling their first witnesses.

Slager's taser was at the center of debate Tuesday afternoon with the judge even chiming in.

Both prosecutors and defense attorneys have had their own experts give their opinions on who had Slager's taser before the shooting.

Prosecutors say Slager had the taser the whole time and dropped it from his right side before he shot a fleeing Walter Scott.

The defense says Scott had the taser and threw it down to Slager's left side. That's when federal Judge David Norton said it looked like the taser was coming from Slager's right side.

The defense had their video and audio experts take the stand and speak about the traffic stop on Scott and the cell phone video of the shooting.

David Hallimore, an audio expert who analyzed the audio from the traffic stop and cell phone video, testified that when Slager chased Scott after the traffic stop he could hear the exhaustion in Slager's voice.

Hallimore says he perceived Slager was in real trouble.

The expert testified he was able to hear Scott say "**** the police" before the two got into a fight.  According to Hallimore, after filtering out noise, he could hear Slager telling Scott to let go of his taser.

Grant Fredericks, a forensic video analyst, was also called to the stand. He analyzed the cell phone video of the shooting for the defense and showed blurred still images of the video in court. He concluded that Scott and Slager fought on the ground and engaged in a physical altercation prior to the shooting.

Fredericks also said his analysis showed taser wire was wrapped around Slager's leg and was connected to Scott right before the shooting.

The expert said he also heard Scott say "f" the police on video when Slager told him to get on the ground, and that Slager is heard saying 'let go of my taser or I will shoot you.'

Slager pleaded guilty in May to violating Scott's rights under the color of the law after a judge declared a mistrial for his murder charge on the state level.

Prosecutors are seeking life in prison for second degree murder while the defense team is hoping for anywhere from 10 to 12 years for manslaughter.

Monday was marked by the testimony of various government witnesses. Feiden Santana, the man who captured video of the shooting, took the stand and told the judge Scott was clearly trying to get away from Slager. Santana testified that the shooting was unnecessary.

Slager's attorney Andy Savage said Scott was partly responsible because he grabbed Slager's taser and tried to use it on the ex-cop.

In addition, SLED agent Charles Ghent testified. Savage said there were inconsistencies in what Ghent said on the stand compared to what was in the SLED documents about the interviews with Slager after the interviews.

Anthony Imel, an FBI video expert, also took the stand, showcasing how far away Scott was when Slager fired each shot on the cell phone video. Meanwhile prosecutor Jared Fishman called Slager's act calculated and deliberate.

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