CHARLESTON, S.C. (MEDIA GENERAL/AP) – Former North Charleston police officer Michael Slager has been indicted on murder charges by a grand jury, South Carolina state prosecutor Scarlett Wilson announced Monday, June 8, 2015.
Slager was accused of murder April 7, three days after a confrontation with Walter Scott, who was gunned down following a traffic stop.
“The jury will make up its own mind after it sees the video and hears the other testimony,” Wilson said of Slager’s trial.
Slager told authorities that he fired his Taser at Scott as he ran, but the stun gun didn’t work. Then during a scuffle over the weapon, Slager said, he shot Scott with his handgun in self-defense. The video appeared to show the men briefly scuffling in a vacant lot, but it also shows Scott clearly running away when the officer starts firing his handgun.
Family members have said Scott may have started running after the traffic stop because he was fearful of returning to jail over about $18,000 he owed in late child-support payments.
As word of the shooting spread, many feared police would close the case without taking any action against the officer. But days later, the video shot by a man walking to work surfaced, and Slager was arrested, easing tensions in the community.
Wilson announced Slager faces up to life in prison if convicted. The death penalty is legal in South Carolina, but prior to Monday’s announcement, Wilson said the shooting does not appear to meet the specific qualifications for capital punishment.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.