Both sides to settle in Michael Slager’s lawsuit against police group

Dispute to be settled for undisclosed sum

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Michael T. Slager - COURTESY OF CHARLESTON COUNTY
  • Courtesy of Charleston County
  • Michael T. Slager
Both parties in the legal dispute between Michael Slager and the Southern States Police Benevolent Association are opting to settle for an undisclosed sum in the lawsuit brought about by the former North Charleston officer, according to recently filed court documents.

Slager, who is facing trial for the shooting death of Walter Scott, brought legal action against the police organization alleging that the group refused to pay for his court fees. As a paying member of the association, Slager’s attorneys in the case claimed that their client should have received legal defense benefits from the organization, which had been denied on the grounds that he “committed an intentional, deliberate and/or illegal act, either civilly or criminally” when Scott was killed.

“Michael Slager’s insurer, the Southern States Police Benevolent Association Inc. (PBA), had promised to provide him a legal defense in the event he was charged with a crime arising out of an officer-involved shooting and to do so with ‘no caps’ and ‘no limits.’ Even so, the PBA abandoned Officer Slager just four days after the shooting death of Walter Scott,” claimed Slager’s attorneys in a court document filed earlier this month. “It conducted no investigation of its own. It did not even await the results of the investigation being conducted by SLED, nor did it wait to see the video enhancement of the shooting which was being conducted by the FBI.”

Slager’s legal team went on to add, “Significantly, the FBI enhanced video shows that after resisting arrest and after wrestling with Officer Slager on the ground, Walter Scott grabbed Slager’s taser as the two men were face to face. It is at this moment that Officer Slager made the decision to use deadly force and to draw his firearm. Since Scott had gained control of his taser and faced Officer Slager, the decision was made to use deadly force as he had been trained to do consistent with Officer Slager’s training.”

The Southern States Police Benevolent Association also faces a class action suit filed against the organization in August, calling on the group’s 42,000 members across nine different states, as well as past members, to demand compensation for damages related to membership dues paid to ensure financial assistance in the event of a legal dispute.

“We are vigorously defending our association against these claims,” association president Chris Skinner said in a response to the suit. “We look forward to continuing to provide legal service to our members now and in the future.”

In this weeks court filing regarding the pending settlement between Slager and the police group, the former officer’s attorneys requested that the case be put on pause until the deal is finalized. Looking ahead, Slager’s state trial stemming from charges related to the death of Walter Scott is set to begin Oct. 31. Slager also faces federal charges for this incident, but a trial date has yet to be set. A pretrial conference in that case is scheduled for Aug. 30 in downtown Charleston.


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