Testimony continued this week in the trial of a white former North Charleston, S.C., police officer charged with shooting and killing an unarmed black motorist. It focused on the moments immediately following the shooting and the investigation thereafter.
As previously reported on The Root, Michael Slager, 34, is on trial for the April 2015 shooting death of 50-year-old Walter Scott. Scott was running from a traffic stop in North Charleston when Slager shot him five times in the back. In addition to the state murder charge, Slager faces three federal charges, including a civil rights violation.
This week, as documented in a live blog by the Charleston Post and Courier, the jury heard testimony from witnesses called by the prosecution, including police officers who arrived on the scene after the shooting, state agents who investigated the shooting, and medical personnel who examined Scott’s dead body and performed toxicology tests.
Brian Chiles, an employee of Taser International, took the stand Monday and testified that his analysis of the Taser that Slager used indicated that the trigger was pulled seven times the day Scott was killed, but he could not say how effective the Taser was when it was used.
On Tuesday, North Charleston Police Department crime-scene investigator Jackie Ong testified that when she saw Scott’s body at the scene of the shooting, a Taser barb was still attached, he had gunshot wounds and someone had tried to provide medical care after the incident. Former State Law Enforcement Division agent Almon Brown said in his testimony that the information he got from an initial debriefing about what happened did not line up with the wounds he saw on Scott’s back.
Forensic pathologist Dr. Lee Marie Tormos, who performed the autopsy on Scott, testified that he had five gunshot wounds in his back and other bruises and abrasions. She said that bullets that hit Scott all came from behind and hit the back of his body closer to his right side than his spine.
Forensic toxicologist Demi Garvin said that Scott had a cocaine level of 36 nanograms per milliliter in his body; an average impaired driver’s level is 87.
Thursday’s testimony focused partly on how SLED agents collected evidence from the scene and DNA analysis of blood samples collected from Slager’s uniform and Scott’s body. The jury also heard from Scott's brother Anthony, who discussed photos he took with his phone of the scene shortly after the shooting, and about his interactions with Feidin Santana, the man who captured the cellphone video of the shooting.
Court is closed on Friday for Veteran’s Day; the trial will resume Monday morning.
Read more at the Charleston Post and Courier.