Federal attorneys: Obama & Trump administrations support Slager prosecution

Federal attorneys: Obama & Trump administrations support Slager prosecution
Michael Slager's attorneys have filed the opening brief in his appeal case.

CHARLESTON, SC (WCSC) - Federal prosecutors say the Trump administration "fully supports" the prosecution of a former North Charleston police officer charged with violating a motorist's civil rights in April 2015.

At a federal motion hearing Friday morning, attorneys and prosecutors in Michael Slager's case discussed a variety of issues on what may or may not be presented during his federal trial.

Slager faces civil rights violations and obstruction of justice charges in Federal court, while the Ninth Circuit Solicitor works on retrying Slager on his murder charge.

Andy Savage, Slager's attorney, feels public out lash is what contributed to federal charges against his client. He said the case was pushed for by former Attorney General Loretta Lynch, not by the local office here in Charleston.

"There will not be duel prosecution [with] the new administration," Savage said. "If the state of South Carolina fails in its duties to prosecute, receive violations of law properly, then the justice department will come in."

Savage feels the new administration in office will oversee how cases are handled in the future based on facts alone.

"They're not going to nose their way in to a case just for publicity sake, or political sake, or whatever the motivation was," Savage said. "Certainly the motivation by Loretta Lynch, and her crowd, was not for justice."

During a government motion to exclude specific arguments by the defense, federal prosecutors said both the Obama and Trump Administrations "fully support" the prosecution of this case; saying it's not about politics but seeking justice.

Savage and his associates met with Department of Justice officials last week in Washington D.C. where he said the public outrage of the shooting in April 2015 is what led the government to file federal charges.

"The ones who were most vocal in that meeting, were the ones with the least authority, and they're the ones who have been up there for too long, frankly," Savage said. "Situations that develop in Charleston are not interpreted the same as situations that would develop on Staten Island, Milwaukee, and other places."

During Slager's state trial Savage discussed officer involved shootings in other locations around the country. Some of those cases did not result in federal charges.

"The crusaders in the civil rights department… are still carrying the badge of the 1960s, and have that prism of life in the South." Savage said. "These charges shoudn't be based on geography, or past history, but on the facts developed at this time."

Other motions were discussed in the pre-trial hearing.

Judge David C. Norton denied a motion filed by Slager's attorneys to exclude bystander video of the Walter Scott shooting and further denied a request to prohibit the use of slow motion if the video should be played.

Slager's attorneys feel slowing down the video creates a sense of "intentionality" in the situation and say the video is "incomplete" and "from the wrong point of view."

The prosecution rebutted the video shows the inconsistencies between officer statements and what actually happened.

The judge granted the government's motion to exclude referencing some of Slager's character traits, including good behavior and job reviews. Slager's attorney Andy Savage said he does plan on talking about Slager's character depending on how the government presents its evidence.

Slager is accused of violating the civil rights of Scott, who ran away from a traffic stop, when he shot and killed the man in April 2015. Jury selection for the federal trial starts May 9.

Slager also faces state murder charges in the shooting. His first trial there ended in a hung jury.

Copyright 2017 WCSC. The Associated Press contributed to this report. All Rights Reserved.