COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) — The former South Carolina police officer charged with killing an unarmed black man running from a traffic stop said he needs public help paying for his defense.
Michael Slager said in court papers filed Friday that his family of five lives under the poverty line because he and his wife have been unemployed for long stretches of time. Slager said he has depended on financial help from family members since he was fired and charged with murder in the fatal shooting of Walter Scott after an April 2015 traffic stop in North Charleston.
Slager’s murder trial in state court last year ended with a hung jury. Prosecutors have said they plan to try him again, but no date has been set.
A judge must approve Slager’s request, his current lawyer, Andy Savage, said in an email. Savage is still representing Slager in federal court, where he will be tried in May on charges that he violated Scott’s civil rights.
Slager pulled Scott over for a broken brake light, then shot at him eight times as Scott tried to run away after the two wrestled on the ground. Scott was hit five times in the back and the bystander video of the shooting was shown around the world.
Slager said Scott tried to grab his Taser during the fight and he feared for his life.
Nearly a dozen motions were filed Friday in Slager’s federal case, all of them responses from prosecutors or Savage to requests made by the other side. Prosecutors want to keep Slager’s lawyers from mentioning shootings in which officers were killed, staffing shortages and possible traffic-ticket quotas in North Charleston.
The shooting deaths of officers on duty were “seared into Slager’s brain,” as was his belief that he was in the most dangerous neighborhood in the most dangerous city in South Carolina when he stopped Scott, Savage wrote in the court papers. He was “alone, exhausted, attacked, de-armed and in fear of his life,” Savage wrote.
Prosecutors want a judge to block a defense request to take jurors to the crime scene, saying it looks different than it did in April 2015.
They also want a judge to deny the defense motion to not show jurors the bystander video because it starts after the fight on the ground between Slager and Scott. Prosecutors said the video shows the “crucial moment that the defendant employed deadly force.”
A judge has not ruled on the motions.
Follow Jeffrey Collins on Twitter at http://twitter.com/JSCollinsAP . His work can be found at http://bigstory.ap.org/content/jeffrey-collins .
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