Attorneys in the state trial of former North Charleston police officer Michael Slager worked their way through a laundry list of discovery items Tuesday, touching on everything from alleged witness intimidation to jury selection.
Lead defense attorney Andy Savage, who is representing Slager in both his state and federal trials stemming from the shooting of Walter Scott, caught prosecutors by surprise during Tuesday’s hearing when he introduced affidavits from two potential witnesses claiming they had been harassed by members of the solicitor’s office, SLED, and the FBI. Savage told the court that the defense had requested additional information on perspective witnesses for the prosecution in order to conduct follow-up questioning, but said that those details were withheld out of concern that the release of these specifics would lead to harassment. He added that if there were any instances of witness intimidation, they were not the fault of the defense.
Ninth Circuit Solicitor Scarlett Wilson of the prosecution denied any actions taken by her office to threaten witnesses and told the court that she had an obligation to protect all those participating in the investigation. Circuit Judge Clifton Newman ruled that prosecutors must turn over the redacted information on the witnesses under a protective order prohibiting its release beyond the defense team.
Savage also requested an examination of a camera found in the vehicle being driven by Walter Scott before his death. According to Wilson, the camera in question is a small “thumb drive” device that takes photos. Following a ruling by Judge Newman, the camera and any photos collected from the device will be examined and provided to the defense.
Slager’s attorneys also said that their requests for more information related to the $6.5 million settlement paid out to the family of Walter Scott by the City of North Charleston have not been satisfied. Savage told Judge Newman that information gathered leading to the settlement concerning the city’s procedures, policies, and management liabilities could prove helpful for the defense. Wilson said that the prosecution has shared all the information they have been able to gather related to the defense’s requests.
Citing the large number of pretrial hearings and motions from the defense, Judge Newman said that a hearing will be scheduled for early October to settle any unresolved matters leading up to the beginning of the trial on Oct. 31. In the meantime, attorneys for both sides were asked to work together on a questionnaire to be sent out to potential jurors.