CHARLESTON, S.C. (AP) – A white former South Carolina police officer charged with murder in the shooting death of an unarmed black motorist who was running away, Walter Scott, has been indicted on federal charges including depriving the victim of his civil rights.
An indictment unsealed Wednesday also charges Michael Slager, 34, with obstruction of justice and unlawful use of a weapon during the commission of a crime.
A bystander’s cellphone video captured images of Slager, then a North Charleston police officer, firing eight times as Scott, 50, ran from a traffic stop in April 2015. The case inflamed a national debate about how blacks are treated by white police officers.
Slager was charged with murder in state court and fired from the force. He was held in solitary confinement until January, when he was released on half a million dollars bail and put under house arrest at an undisclosed location, allowed to leave only for work, church and medical or legal appointments.
Slager is to appear before a judge in Charleston later Wednesday for an initial appearance on the federal charges. Scott’s family said they planned to meet with reporters after the hearing.
Slager’s state trial is set to begin this fall, and he faces a possible life sentence without parole. Prosecutors have asked for the trial to be moved up to August or back to May 2017 to give Solicitor Scarlett Wilson time to prepare for another trial, that of Dylann Roof who’s charged with shooting nine people to death at a black church in Charleston last summer.
Roof’s trial is now set for January, and the state Supreme Court has issued an order protecting Wilson from trying other cases before that one.
Last fall, North Charleston approved a $6.5 million civil settlement with Scott’s family.
___Kinnard reported from Columbia, South Carolina.