Slager's defense team files new evidence in Walter Scott shooting

Slager's defense team files new evidence in Walter Scott shooting
Walter Scott (Photo Source: Facebook)
Walter Scott (Photo Source: Facebook)

CHARLESTON, SC (CBS/WCSC) - Defense attorneys representing the former North Charleston police officer accused of fatally shooting an unarmed man filed new evidence in the case Tuesday afternoon.

Michael Slager has been in jail since he was arrested and charged with murder in the April 4 shooting of Walter Scott.

The 153-page motion was filed moments before doors closed for the day Tuesday afternoon at the federal courthouse and includes several performance reviews for Slager, a psychiatric evaluation and Scott's autopsy, which says there was cocaine in his system. The autopsy ruled the manner of death homicide.

"CBS This Morning" reported Tuesday defense attorney Andy Savage planned to present evidence as Slager faced an upcoming bond hearing that would include "never-before-seen stills from the cell phone video that are said to show Scott on top of Slager."

"You need to go back to the incident scene," Savage said. "And you need to see where the original stop was and you need to see where the final events took place."

CBS News Correspondent Jeff Pegues then asked Savage what Scott could have done if he was unarmed.

"You say he was unarmed," Savage said. "Maybe he was found without any weapon on him at the time that he died."

Dash cam video has shown the beginning of the traffic stop along Remount Road and cell phone video recorded its fatal end. Savage says the unreleased images from the cell phone video will show a new angle of the struggle.

"Time will tell and I think that you will be able to judge his actions not by just what he said but what the independent evidence is," Savage told CBS News.

Ninth Circuit Solicitor Scarlett Wilson issued a statement Tuesday following the CBS report, saying she was subject to "special rules" that limited her ability to make public comments about pending cases.

"For this reason, it is best for the administration of justice that I not join in a media side show," Wilson said in the statement. "The evidence in this case will be presented in the courtroom. Presenting that evidence in the proper way and at the proper time remains our focus."

Cell phone video of the shooting recorded by passerby Feidin Santana was released days after the incident and showed Slager, 33, firing at Scott while the 50-year-old was running away.

CBS News reported Slager's defense team believes his Taser "was fired six times and that both Scott and Slager were hit twice." The report also alleged Scott's DNA was on the Taser and there was blood on Slager's clothing and abrasions on his knee and that he had an injured finger.

Reports stated Slager claimed he shot Scott because he feared for his life following a physical altercation between the two.

The video, which begins after the alleged altercation, shows Slager and Scott within arms reach of one another as something is dropped to the ground. As soon as the item is dropped, Scott turns from the North Charleston police officer and is seen running away. Slager immediately pulls out his service pistol and fires eight shots towards Scott, then shows Scott falling to the ground.

According to the Charleston County Coroner's Office, Scott died as a result of multiple gunshot wounds to the back. Slager was charged with one count of murder and fired from the police department after the video was released.

Slager's defense team filed a motion on Sep. 2 requesting several pieces of evidence they say they have requested in previous motions but had not yet received.

That evidence included copies of the Facebook message from Santana to the group Black Lives Matter regarding his initial contact with Scott's family. Their defense motion also requested the identity of the person who currently possesses Santana's original video as well as the identity of the person who currently possesses the cell phone on which the video was recorded.

The motion also requested the names, races, genders and dates of birth for every Grand Juror that met regarding the Slager case during the week of June 8 and the exact details of selecting them. Also requested are the names of the witnesses who appeared before the Grand Jury, verification that they all administered an oath before testifying, and the number of days and hours each day the Grand Jury was in session during the week of June 8.

Additionally, the motion asks for a time and location to inspect all audio equipment used by Slager on the day of the shooting, and all documents including but not limited to notes, emails, and memoranda from the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division about a telephone conversation with the Honorable Todd Rutherford, Esquire, about his client, Feidin Santana, and Santana's intent to surrender a cell phone video to police.

The motion says the evidence was requested in discovery motions filed on April 10, May 7, June 19, June 22, July 10, Aug. 3, and Aug. 14.

A Charleston County grand jury indicted Slager on murder in June. Murder was the only charge presented to the grand jury to consider for an indictment, Wilson said. The charge carries a sentence of 30 years to life in prison without parole.

Also in June, Gov. Nikki Haley signed a bill requiring all law enforcement officers to wear body cameras. The bill had been introduced in December, but was fast-tracked following the Scott shooting.

Slager's bond hearing is scheduled for Thursday.

An attorney for Walter Scott's family told CBS News they will respond once they see the new evidence.

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