PUBLISHER'S NOTE: As reporter Alex Johnson notes: "A video made by a bystander showing Slager shooting Scott in the back in April 2015 stunned the nation and led to murder charges for the former North Charleston police officer, who could be sentenced to 30 years to life in prison if he's convicted."..."This Blog is digging into the momentous on-going trial from time to time, when issues relating to the forensic evidence emerge from the fray.
Harold Levy: Publisher: The Charles Smith Blog;
STORY: "Defense mission: Make jurors see Walter Scott shooting through officer's eyes," by reporter Andrew Knapp, published by The Post and Courier on November 20, 2016.
GIST: "The attorneys defending Michael Slager already have tried to show jurors that the police officer's decision to shoot Walter Scott was, at some point in a confrontation between them, justified.
Their task this week in Slager's murder trial is to convey that he should not have been expected to change his mind in the 1½ seconds between the moment Scott turned to run and the officer's first gunshot. Lead defense attorney Andy Savage gave a preview of that argument last week when he fruitlessly asked the presiding judge to toss out the case after prosecutors finished their testimony.
"It cannot be viewed the same as a Saturday night killing, a typical murder case," Savage said in pleading with the judge. "One must look at it through the experience of a police officer … immediately prior to the shooting." But that task will be tall as the defense continues calling witnesses, including laboratory experts and Slager's former co-workers at the North Charleston Police Department. The defense testimony is unlikely to wrap up before noon Wednesday, when the jurors leave for the Thanksgiving weekend. With closing arguments and deliberations still to come, the trial is expected to stretch into December. The jury has seen 13 days of court proceedings, 32 prosecution witnesses and three defense witnesses since they showed up for duty at the downtown Charleston courthouse. .........Slager, now 35, stopped Scott's car April 4, 2015, along Remount Road for a broken brake light. Scott, 50, started running as the officer checked his identification. The patrolman used a Taser in a bid to control Scott during a foot chase. But they got into a struggle, which is when Slager said Scott grabbed his Taser and turned it on him. A bystander's video showed Slager drawing his pistol as Scott turned and starting running. In 1.49 seconds, Scott ran 17 feet, a prosecution witness estimated last week, before Slager fired the first shot. He would fire seven more, hitting Scott with five. The footage creates a lasting image for most observers. Savage acknowledged that in an interview before the trial. His hope is to sway the jury that Scott's actions in the seconds earlier warranted the shooting. But with all but one of the three witnesses who have testified in the trial, the prosecution has offered pointed rebuttal through cross-examination. Even when North Charleston's quartermaster, who issues equipment and uniforms to city employees including police officers, testified for the defense about the 25 pounds of gear Slager was carrying during the encounter, the prosecutors managed to convey key messages. Defense lawyers intended the witness, Ely Driggers, Police Chief Eddie Driggers' son, to show that Slager would have been exhausted after running nearly 600 feet and getting into a struggle with Scott. In turn, Chief Deputy Solicitor Bruce DuRant pointed to the other options for subduing Scott that were hooked to Slager's belt. DuRant asked about pepper spray: "Pretty incapacitating?""Yes," the witness said." "Yes." At Savage's office not far from the courthouse, bookshelves that stretch the width of a wall are full of binders and notebooks with information for Slager's defense. Savage has said that he hired 55 experts to examine the evidence. Not all will testify, but some are expected to convey the defense's central themes. Analysts, both private and from the State Law Enforcement Division, will likely take the stand. Marks were discovered on Slager's uniform, and SLED (State Law Enforcement Division; HL) testing revealed that a Taser could not be excluded as their cause. The defense will further contend that Scott made threats, that Slager didn't know whether he was armed and that the officer feared someone was coming to help Scott. But will the testimony, coupled with arguments at the end of the trial, be enough for the officer to explain what he did in the video? In successfully fighting Savage's motion for acquittal, Assistant Solicitor Chad Simpson emphasized how damning that footage could be. “Obviously, the central piece of evidence in this case is the video we’ve seen several times," Simpson, one of the four prosecutors on the case, said in making the argument. "Officer Slager shooting Mr. Scott in the back as he runs away — I’m tempted to stop there." While the defense asked for the acquittal before the jury reached deliberations — a typical motion that rarely works in criminal trials — the resulting ruling from Circuit Judge Clifton Newman sounded more like a conviction, though that was not an option. The judge echoed Simpson, citing the evidence indicating that Slager had shot a fleeing person in the back. "The state has proved beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant killed another person with malice aforethought," he said, using legal terms required for a murder conviction. His words accentuate the difficult road ahead for the defense.
The entire story can be found at:
PUBLISHER'S NOTE: I am monitoring this case/issue. Keep your eye on the Charles Smith Blog for reports on developments. The Toronto Star, my previous employer for more than twenty incredible years, has put considerable effort into exposing the harm caused by Dr. Charles Smith and his protectors - and into pushing for reform of Ontario's forensic pediatric pathology system. The Star has a "topic" section which focuses on recent stories related to Dr. Charles Smith. It can be found at: http://www.thestar.com/topic/c