Michael Slager, the former North Charleston, South Carolina police officer who fatally shot unarmed Walter Scott eight times in the back as Scott ran away, was released on $500,000 bond on Monday. According to the Charleston Post and Courier, the presiding judge was concerned about the delayed start date of the trial and granted bail.
Slager, 34, was indicted for killing Scott, 50, after video footage emerged of the fatal shooting on April 4 last year. Slager had apparently pulled Scott over for a routine traffic stop.
The footage of Scott’s murder reached national attention because Scott was Black and Slager is White, prompting scrutiny about the use excessive force against unarmed Black civilians.
The case has been delayed because the trial of Dylann Roof – the domestic terrorist who killed nine Black congregants at the Emanuel AME Church last summer – has taken precedence in South Carolina.
According to the Post and Courier,
“At the heart of Circuit Judge Clifton Newman’s decision was an order from the state Supreme Court that cleared the area’s top prosecutor from going to trial on other cases before accused mass murderer Dylann Roof is tried this summer.”
There have also been concerns about Slager’s health while he awaits trial. The Post and Courier reports,
“Meanwhile, Slager’s pretrial confinement could affect a sort of punishment on the former officer even while he is presumed innocent, the judge said. A defense attorney cited Slager’s celiac disease that has worsened with a jail diet containing gluten.
The prospect of months more behind bars prompted Newman to reconsider his decision denying bail in September, when he labeled Slager a danger to the community and a flight risk.”
Scott’s family was reportedly disappointed by this decision but eagerly await the trial in the hopes that Walter Scott will receive the justice he was denied on the day of his murder.
Slager’s trial is scheduled for October 31, more than one year after Scott’s death.
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