North Charleston police called to stand in Slager murder trial Monday

Trial resumes Monday

CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCBD) — Monday testimony in the Michael Slager murder trial continued with a series of North Charleston police officers taking the stand.

Court began with Solicitor Scarlett Wilson warning the court she would be calling hostile witnesses, who are North Charleston Police and friends of Michael Slager.

Clarence Habersham, the first officer to arrive on scene in April 2015, was on the stand first.  His testimony began Friday but was cut short.  Following him Lt. Daniel Bowman and Sgt. James Gann took the stand.

He told the jury Slager had a good reputation at the department.  The subsequent witnesses said the same thing.

Large chucks of the testimony circled around how many officers were on patrol the morning Slager shot Walter Scott.  There were several officers on leave that day, leaving the department short-handed.

There was also a large focus on the use of the Taser, including the frequency of use by Slager during his tenure as a police officer with the department. Defense attorney Andy Savage pointed out on several occasions Slager was following police protocol when dealing with a suspect.  The last witness of the day was a Taser engineer who confirmed the device was used, but he couldn’t say who used it and if it made any contact.  He testified SLED did not ask him to test trace DNA.

The prosecution rapid fired questions about the physical contact between Slager and Scott. Officer Bowman testified he could see Slager had been in a physical fight based on the condition of his uniform.

“There’s no question” he had been in a fight, Bowman said, adding Slager also had lacerations on his hand and knees.

When pressed for details about how disheveled Slager was, the officer said his shirt was not untucked. It’s likely the defense will present to former officer’s uniform as evidence later in the trial.

Lt. Bowman also testified Slager told him he rendered aid to Scott at the scene, though video of the scene contradicts that claim.

Sgt. James Gann testified he believed Slager shot his firearm after the situation was deescalating.  When cross examined, he admitted he wasn’t at the shooting and wasn’t making “nano second decisions”.

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