CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCBD) — Former North Charleston police officer Michael Slager took the witness stand this morning in his murder trial of Walter Scott.
In emotional testimony, Slager told the courtroom he was in total fear for his life during a physical fight with Walter Scott. After being arrested for the shooting, he was jailed next to Dylan Roof where he said he couldn’t sleep and the jail doctors would only offer to provide him with sleep aids.
He said during the fight with Walter Scott, he realized he was outmatched. Scott was much stronger than Slager, and even with Slager sitting on top of Scott, Scott was able to fight off Slager. Choking up, he told the jury he called for his partner to hurry for help. It was at the moment, he said Scott took control of his Taser and started coming toward the former officer. It was then he told the courtroom he made the decision to shoot.
He told the jury he initiated the traffic stop to write Scott a warning for a broken tail light because often people don’t realize their lights are broken. He said it was a typical traffic stop until Scott took off running. Slager said it is uncommon for drivers to run for a tail light warning and was worried Scott would do anything to get away, though he didn’t know why Scott wanted to get away.
He later told the jury, “Saturday was supposed to be a good day.” It was the day before Easter, and he was taking three days of vacation with his family, including his pregnant wife, following his Saturday shift.
In cross-examination, there were several questions he couldn’t answer about the day of the shooting. He couldn’t explain why he moved the taser closer to Scott’s body after the shooting. Twice he described his brain as “spaghetti” following the fight.
In his final minutes of testimony, he told the jury his life has been a roller coaster since the shooting. He said his family has been destroyed; the Scott family has been destroyed; he has nightmares and can’t sleep.
What we learned about MIchael Slager:
- While in jail, he missed the birth of his only son. It took the Slager’s two rounds of IVF to get pregnant.
- He married his wife in 2010. She already had two daughters from a previous marriage who are 13 and 15-years-old.
- He started but didn’t finish college.
- His parents are divorced. He lived part of his childhood with his mother in Texas and part with his father in New Jersey.