Courtesy of Charleston County
A cry could be heard from the family of Michael Slager Monday afternoon as the judge announced a $500,000 bond for the former North Charleston police officer charged with the murder of Walter Scott.
By 7 p.m. that evening, Slager was released from police custody and placed on house arrest where he’ll await his trial scheduled to begin Oct. 31. Prior to the ruling by Circuit Judge Clifton Newman, Slager was allowed to address the court, saying he does not consider himself a danger or a flight risk and looks forward to clearing his name.
Slager has been held in isolation following his arrest last April when an eyewitness video was released showing the former officer fire at Scott, who was unarmed and attempting to flee from the officer following a traffic stop. In court Monday, the defendant's lead attorney, Andy Savage, told the judge that the “video that the state has shown the public is incomplete. At this moment, the state has their experts analyzing the whole video, which shows what took place in the minutes between the traffic stop and the shooting. This portion of the video is a much different perspective as to what happened.”
Ninth Circuit Solicitor Scarlett Wilson argued that there have been no material changes since the judge first denied Slager bond, saying that he remains a flight risk and a threat to the community. Wilson also currently serves as the lead prosecutor in the case of Dylann Roof, who will face trial in July for the mass shooting at Emanuel AME Church. The solicitor’s involvement with the Mother Emanuel case was cited as a main reason for Slager’s trial being delayed until the fall. Acknowledging the duration of Slager’s incarceration leading up to his court date, Wilson argued that multiple other defendants have waited longer and remain in custody.
Walter Scott Sr., the father of the shooting victim, also pled with the judge to once again deny Slager’s release on bond.
“When I go down to that graveyard and see my son, all I see at that graveyard is a pot in the ground with flowers in it,” Scott said. “Mr. Slager, if you let him out, he’s going to go home and look at his wife and look at his children. All I’m going to see is a pot of flowers. I feel he should stay right where he’s at.”
But Scott’s words would not be enough to sway Judge Newman, who said he was troubled by the delay of Slager’s trial and the length of the defendant’s incarceration prior to his court date.
“I believe that in order for any punishment for the defense to be meted out, it has to be the result of a jury trial, not as a result of pretrial confinement,” Newman said prior to issuing his verdict. “Given the presumption of innocence, the period of incarceration, the fact that he cannot be tried before October, I believe the defendant is entitled to the reconsideration of bond.”