CHARLESTON, S.C. (AP) – Jurors in the Michael Slager murder trial will resume deliberating the fate of the white former South Carolina patrolman charged with killing a black motorist.
Circuit Judge Clifton Newman gave the jury instructions on the law and now the panel will consider the case after a month-long trial.
Michael Slager is charged with murder after shooting 50-year-old Walter Scott during a traffic stop last year in North Charleston. The shooting was captured on dramatic cellphone video that stunned the nation.
The judge instructed the jury that they can acquit Slager, convict him of murder or convict him of voluntary manslaughter. A murder conviction carries a sentence of 30 years to life. Conviction on a count of voluntary manslaughter carries a sentence of two years to 30 years.
In his closing arguments, Andy Savage put blamed on Walter Scott for running, fighting with the former officer, and taking the former officer’s Taser.
“A decision he made whether he was on cocaine, alcohol, whatever it was,” Savage told the jury, adding Slager was justified and doing his job to protect the community when he fired.
“Can you imagine if he didn’t stop Scott, and Scott grabbed someone off the street?”
Solicitor Scarlett Wilson fired back telling the jury even good officers make mistakes.
“Accountability is key or it all falls apart,” she said to open her closing arguments.
And she says Slager’s claim of distress just aren’t true.
“He never got stressed from being Tased,” she told the jury. “As you recall he doesn’t even remember being Tased.”
She closed by saying Slager broke his oath to protect and serve, and he needed to drink from the fountain of justice.
After deliberating fewer than an hour, the jury told the judge they wanted to break for the night. They will resume deliberations Thursday morning at 9:30 a.m.