Michael Slager wants U.S. Supreme Court to hear case

Updated: May. 7, 2019 at 12:31 PM EDT
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CHARLESTON, SC (WCSC) - According to a federal court filing from late April, former North Charleston police officer Michael Slager has petitioned the United States Supreme Court to hear his case.

Slager, who shot and killed black motorist Walter Scott in 2015, later pleaded guilty to the federal charge of violating Scott’s civil rights and was sentenced to 20 years in prison.

Attorneys for Slager submitted a petition for a writ of certiorari.The writ of certiorari is the beginning of the process which signifies that Slager would like the highest court in the United States to hear his case. The court doesn’t have an obligation to hear his case, and those which it decides to hear are only those which have national significance, bring up constitutional questions and could or have set some kind of precedent.

The court typically may only accept 100 to 150 out of more than 7,000 cases it is asked to review annually.

The writ in Slager’s case formally states the following when asked which question the U.S. Supreme Court should consider.

Did the district court deny Petitioner’s right to due process when it found that the underlying conduct at issue here—Officer Michael Slager’s shooting of Mr. Walter Scott, immediately after the two were engaged in a physical altercation on the ground, constituted second-degree murder and not voluntary manslaughter, when that finding was contrary to the record?

The fourth circuit court of appeals denied Slager’s request for an appeal in February

In court documents filed earlier in January, judges said a district court committed no error in sentencing Slager to 20 years in prison after Slager entered a guilty plea of depriving Scott, 50, of his civil rights under the color of law.

Slager’s request for an appeal was based on the argument that the district court sentenced him using sentencing guidelines for second-degree murder and an additional two-level “enhancement.” Slager’s attorneys argued the court should have based his sentence using guidelines for voluntary manslaughter.

Slager was indicted in May 2016 by a federal grand jury that alleged Slager, “while acting under the color of law as an officer with the North Charleston Police Department, shot [and killed] Walter Scott without legal justification, willfully depriving him of the right...to be free from the use of unreasonable force by a law enforcement officer.”

Slager was also tried on a charge of murder in state court, but that trial resulted in a hung jury and mistrial.

Slager then entered a global plea agreement with federal and state prosecutors, agreeing to plead guilty in federal court to one count of depriving Scott of his civil rights under color of law. In exchange, federal prosecutors agreed to drop remaining counts in the grand jury’s indictment and South Carolina agreed not to retry Slager and dismissed the murder charge.

Slager, 37, is an inmate at Englewood Federal Correctional Institution, a low-security facility in Littleton, Colorado.

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