Lawyers for the family of a black man fatally shot by a South Carolina police officer dismissed as “smoke and mirrors” Wednesday toxicology reports and other documents filed by the officer’s lawyers in advance of a bail hearing Thursday.
Former North Charleston police officer Michael Slager, 33, is charged with murder in the April death of Walter Scott, 50, following a traffic stop for a broken taillight.
Lawyers for the family rejected information in documents filed by Slager lawyer Andy Savage indicating Scott had cocaine in his system and posed a dire threat to Slager.
“It’s all smoke an mirrors,” Scott family lawyer Justin Bamberg told USA TODAY. “It all comes back to the video. When the first shot is fired, Mr. Scott is unarmed, 15 or 20 feet away.”
The documents indicate Scott had traces of cocaine in his system, although less than half the level typical of an impaired driver. The documents also include Slager’s statement to police, in which he said he attempted to control Scott with a Taser. Slager said Scott wrestled the Taser away and then pointed it at him. Only then, Slager said, did he draw his gun and shoot Scott.
Slager fired eight times, hitting Scott five times. Scott died at the scene. Savage says Scott’s DNA was found on the Taser, and gunpowder was found on Scott’s hands.
Chris Stewart, another lawyer for Scott’s family, told USA TODAY that Scott’s fingerprints would have been on the Taser if he ever held it. The gunpowder residue was probably transferred to the gun from Slager after Scott was killed, Stewart said.
“He (Slager) handcuffed a dead man,” Stewart said. “It’s silly that this stuff is being twisted. They have to say something. Desperate times call for desperate measures.”
Source: USA Today | John Bacon