About a year ago, in April 2015, a video shocked the masses when it showed what clearly appeared to be a police officer shooting a fleeing black man in the back and then planting a taser by his dead body.
Michael Slager, the former South Carolina officer that was captured in the video shooting Walter Scott, has been brought up on three federal charges on top of the state charges, including murder, he’s already facing, according to HuffPost.
According to The Post and Courier, Slager, 34, was charged with deprivation of rights under color of law, using a firearm in a violent crime and obstruction of justice.
“This is history,” said Chris Stewart, a Scott family attorney. “It could be a turning point in history that the federal government is no longer going to sit on the sidelines. They’re going to make police officers face federal justice.”
These recent charges make Slager’s one of the very few cases where a police officer faces potential federal punishment for a high-profile shooting.
“The feds may be prosecuting because they think it’s important to use this case to send a message,” said Seth Stoughton, a University of South Carolina law professor who studies policing, “and that message might not be sent if officer Slager were just prosecuted and even convicted on the state charges.”
The federal grand jury received the case a month ago and came out this past week to say that Slager shot Scott “without legal justification, willfully depriving him of the right, secured and protected by the Constitution and laws of the United States, to be free from the use of unreasonable force by a law enforcement officer.”
Some view the federal charges as a backup in case the South Carolina state charges fall through.
Photo Credit: Twitter