- Michael Slager, 34, faces 30 years to life in prison if convicted of murder
- He shot Walter Scott, 50, eight times from a distance as he ran away
- A cellphone video of the encounter stunned the nation as it spread online
- Scott’s family and friends were the first to take the stand in the trial
- His fiancee, Charlotte Jones, called him a ‘loving and kind person’
Khaleda Rahman For Dailymail.com
James Wilkinson For Dailymail.com
15:03 EDT, 3 November 2016
02:04 EDT, 4 November 2016
The mother of Walter Scott, the black motorist shot in the back as he fled a white South Carolina cop in April last year, collapsed weeping and screaming ‘Hallelujah’ after recounting her last conversation with her son.
Judy Scott testified in court Thursday that he had called her moments before Michael Slager, 34, fired eight times. Slager faces 30-years-to-life in prison if convicted of murdering Scott, whom he had also tasered.
‘(My son) didn’t sound very good at all,’ Mrs Scott told the overwhelmingly white jury, according to NBC News. ‘He sounded in distress.’
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Michael Slager (right) faces 30 years to life in prison if convicted of murdering Walter Scott (left). He shot Scott several times in the back after tasering him. Scott was unarmed
A bystander recorded the shooting (above, a still from the video) in April 2015. Scott had been stopped due to a busted tail light, but bolted. Slager says they tussled before the shooting
Scott’s mom, Judy (pictured in court Thursday), collapsed shouting after she testified hearing her son being tasered. Her grandson took the phone from her hands before the fatal shots
The elderly woman explained on the first day of Slager’s trial that Walter Scott had called her shortly after he was pulled over for a busted tail light on April 4, 2015.
The 50-year-old was waiting in his car while Slager was walking back to his patrol vehicle to check license details. It was at that point he bolted and Slager gave chase.
Mrs Scott said she then heard another man saying, ‘ Get on the ground and put your hands behind your back,’ followed by her son saying ‘They tasing me.’
She sobbed as she recalled: ‘I heard him groaning like he was in excruciating pain a couple of times.’
‘I say, “Lamar, just, just do whatever he say,”‘ Scott said. ‘I told him, “You know North Charleston policemen, so just do whatever they say.”‘
Her grandson took the phone out of her hands before she could hear the shots that killed her child, she said. She collapsed weeping and shouting as she left the court.
Also testifying on the first day of the trial was Scott’s friend and colleague Pierre Fulton. He was in the car when they were pulled over, and saw his friend run.
Asked why Scott fled, Fulton answered with an accusation: ‘That’s a question I would like to ask him. Unfortunately, I can’t. He was murdered.’
Slager justified the shooting by saying that Scott stole his Taser. The video shows him dropping something by the body, although it’s not clear whether that item is his Taser
Scott’s friend, Pierre Fulton, who was present when Scott was pulled over, directly said that Slager murdered the man, and had no idea why Scott ran from the car
According to the official report, 50-year-old Scott bolted from his car while Slager was walking back to his vehicle to check license details.
Slager then gave chase and the two were involved in an altercation during which he tasered Scott. Scott continued to run, and Slager fired eight shots, hitting him with five and killing him.
The cop then radioed in the message: ‘Shots fired and the subject is down, he took my Taser.’ He later filed a report in which he repeated that Scott took his Taser.
But footage filmed by a passerby and spread on the web after he filed that report appears to show Slager picking up an object and dropping it by the body.
Slager is going before a jury of ten white members to one black member
It’s not clear whether the object is the Taser or not.
On Thursday, the jurors – ten white and one black – were shown the video from Slager’s cruiser.
It does not show the shooting, which happened outside the view of the dash camera.
But it does show the Mercedes Scott was driving as it is pulled over for a broken taillight.
It shows Slager returning to his cruiser to check Scott’s driver’s license and insurance information, and then Scott bolting from the vehicle.
North Charleston Police Sgt Scott Hille was called by the prosecution to introduce the video.
Asked by the defense if the footage shows anything unprofessional in Slager’s behavior in handling the stop, Hille replied: ‘Not that I can think of sir.’
Earlier on Thursday, Scott’s fiancee, Charlotte Jones, called him a ‘loving and kind person.’
Jones testified that she never knew Scott to have been in a fight. She says ‘he was not that kind of person.’
Scott’s fiancee, Charlotte Jones (pictured on Thursday), called him a ‘loving and kind person’
She also testified that Scott never mentioned to her that he was worried about being behind in child support payments.
Scott’s relatives have said that he may have tried to run away because he was worried he would be jailed for missing payments.
Neighbor Arthur Heyward, who had just sold Scott the car with the non-functioning tail light Slager spotted, called him ‘a good friend and neighbor.’
‘We looked out for each other,’ he said.
Prosecutor Scarlett Wilson told the jury that Slager may have been provoked if Scott wrestled his stun gun from him, but that provocation did not justify shooting Scott.
‘If Walter Scott had not resisted arrest, he wouldn’t have been shot. He paid the extreme consequence for his conduct. He lost his life for his foolishness,’ she acknowledged.
She said Slager must be held accountable for ‘his decision to go too far.’
Walter Scott II, 22, the son of the slain motorist, testifies during the trial on Thursday
‘His decision to let his sense of authority get the better of him,’ she added.
In his opening statement, defense attorney Andy Savage said Slager ‘earned a reputation of excellence’ in his five years with the North Charleston police, and he sought to pin responsibility on Scott.
Slager was alone on patrol in the ‘Number-one crime-ridden area’ in North Charleston when he stopped Scott for a non-functioning tail light, Savage said.
He says that would not have been a big deal, but Scott escalated things by trying to run away.
The defense contends that Slager and Scott fought over the officer’s Taser before Scott ran.
Savage said authorities presume Scott ran because he hadn’t paid child support, but that they don’t know that for sure.
Former police officer Michael Slager walks into the courtroom in Charleston on Thursday
‘Why did he choose not to respect the request to stay where he was? That’s something that I hope you consider,’ Savage told the jurors.
‘It wasn’t Mr Slager who was angry and full of animosity.’
Savage added there was no way Slager could have known Scott was unarmed.
‘He never had a chance to pat him down. He never had a chance to frisk him,’ he said.
As Slager’s trial began in state court in Charleston, a similar trial was underway in Ohio, in which a white campus police officer is charged in the death of a black man.
How much the broader issues of race, violence and policing should be raised during the Slager trial was discussed in court as Judge Clifton Newman considered final pre-trial motions on Tuesday.
Ninth Circuit Solicitor Scarlett Wilson, right, speaks during legal proceedings in front of Judge Clifton Newman during the trial
‘It’s important we not go down the slippery slope of every officer-involved shooting,’ Wilson said.
‘The only thing that is relevant is what the defendant did that day and what was going through his head at the time.’
Don McCune, one of Slager’s defense attorneys, said the case is a bellwether for many people, and ‘we can’t carve Charleston County out of the rest of the world,’ he said.
The judge said the case is not a referendum on what has happened elsewhere.