POST AND COURIER:
If a police group hadn’t “rushed to judgment” and abandoned its legal defense of Michael Slager, it would have found evidence showing he shot Walter Scott according to how he was trained, his attorneys in a civil case said this week.
Slager’s federal lawsuit, if successful, could force the Southern States Police Benevolent Association to pay for his legal representation. But it also has revealed key elements of the defense he’s expected to mount at his criminal trial.
A bystander’s video, the key piece of evidence leading to Slager’s arrest on a murder charge, showed the North Charleston officer firing eight times as Scott ran away. But the footage also revealed Scott and Slager wrestling on the ground before the shooting.
Both the original video and a version enhanced by the FBI offer a glimpse of the two men grappling in the dirt. Scott’s green T-shirt appears to be above Slager’s striped uniform pants. To Slager’s attorneys, Scott was on top of their client at this point, but other body features are not clear from the footage.
Bland Richter contends that the video and their interpretation of the enhancement of it make the case defensible in a criminal court. Because his actions could be portrayed as reasonable, his attorneys argued, the association too quickly gave up on the case and refused to pay for his defense before it closely analyzed the video.
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