The North Charleston police officer who fatally shot Walter Scott was indicted Monday for murder. A video of the incident recorded on a witness' cellphone showed former police officer Michael Slager repeatedly shoot the 50-year-old black man in the back as he ran from the cop, and it quickly circulated around the country following Scott's death in April. The grand jury for the case was presented all the information Monday and returned their decision to indict Slager not long after. If he pleads not guilty, the case will go to trial. So, when will Slager's trial for Scott's death be?
Slager was fired from the North Charleston Police Department after being arrested for murder April 7, just days after Scott's death. According to the police report, Slager pulled Scott over for a faulty brake light, Scott ran, and then there allegedly was a tussle over the officer's Taser. The video shows Scott running away, and Slager firing eight shots, hitting Scott five times, CNN reported, and killing him at the scene.
Slager could face between 30 years and life in prison, according to Scarlett Wilson, the prosecutor for Charleston County who announced the indictment in a news conference. The actual trial probably won't be as speedy as the indictment decision was though — it could take a year just for the trial to start.
Although Wilson said at the news conference Monday that there's no timetable for Slager's trial, murder trials don't usually go quickly. George Zimmerman's trial for the shooting of Trayvon Martin, for which he was found not guilty, started more than a year after Zimmerman was charged with second-degree murder in 2012. Similarly, New York City police officer Peter Liang, who fatally shot an unarmed black man, Akai Gurley, in a public housing staircase, was indicted for multiple charges, including second-degree manslaughter, in February and has yet to go to trial, though he appeared in court for a hearing in May.
Slager's case has moved more rapidly than most so far, considering the shooting only happened in April, but it's likely to slow down. Based on previous cases that have taken more than a year for the trial to begin, Slager probably won't go to trial until 2016, though if he pleads guilty, there won't even be a trial.
Andrew Savage III, an attorney for Slager, told The Washington Post he will not be commenting on the case until he receives the files he's requested from law enforcement agencies, including the audio and video evidence against Slager. In a statement Monday, Savage said that the grand jury “is a formal step, but just another step in the criminal process."
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