The Latest: Attorneys debate jury charge in Slager trial




CHARLESTON, S.C. (AP) — The Latest the trial of a former South Carolina police officer charged with murder in the shooting of an unarmed black motorist (all times local):

7:30 p.m.

The jury has gone home but the attorneys are still in the courtroom in Michael Slager's murder trial in South Carolina.

Slager is the white former North Charleston patrolman charged in the shooting death of Walter Scott — an unarmed black motorist shot five times as he fled a traffic stop in April of last year. The shooting was captured by a bystander on cellphone video.

The defense rested its case earlier Tuesday after Slager took the stand in his own defense.

Attorneys are now arguing over what laws the jury should be asked to consider when the judge charges the jury and the panel composed of 11 whites and one black begins their deliberations.

Closing arguments in the case are expected Wednesday.

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5:20

The defense has rested its case in the murder trial of Michael Slager, the white former South Carolina patrolman charged with murder after fatally shooting an unarmed black motorist.

The defense rested after calling 23 witnesses, the last four of them Slager's former colleagues at the North Charleston Police Department. They testified that Slager is an honest man and was a good officer before he was fired.

Slager faces 30 years to life if convicted of murdering 50-year-old Walter Scott as the motorist fled a traffic stop last year. The shooting was captured on dramatic cellphone video.

Joe Stephens, who retired after 24 years with the department, called Slager "even-keeled, mild-mannered" and "a good cop." Officer Charles Benton said Slager was known to be truthful. Officer Charity Prosser, who was Slager's immediate supervisor for a time before leaving the department this year, called Slager a dedicated officer and a leader.

Officer Skip Allen called Slager a "go-to officer" who would handle relations between the police and bars in North Charleston. Allen said that Slager was also a model for younger officers because of his knowledge and his maturity.

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3:35 p.m.

A defense witness has testified that what Michael Slager described when he shot an unarmed black motorist is consistent with being under a high level of stress.

Charles Morgan, a forensic psychiatrist who teaches at Yale and the University of New Haven, testified Tuesday at Slager's murder trial in South Carolina.

Slager, a white former North Charleston patrolman, faces 30 years to life if convicted of murder in the shooting death of 50-year-old Walter Scott as Scott fled a traffic stop in April of last year. The shooting was captured on dramatic cellphone video by a bystander.

Slager testified that he felt "total fear" when he said Scott wrestled away his Taser, and that details of what happened were fuzzy.

Morgan testified that high levels of stress can distort perceptions, can make colors seem brighter or vanish altogether and cause blanks in people's memories. Morgan testified that such experiences are perfectly normal in such situations.

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1:15 p.m.

Michael Slager says that his shooting of an unarmed black motorist fleeing a traffic stop in South Carolina last year has destroyed two families.

Slager, who took the stand in his own defense on Tuesday, called it horrible and says it destroyed his family as well as the family of Walter Scott.

Slager, a former North Charleston patrolman, is on trial for murder in the shooting death of the 50-year-old Scott in April of last year. The shooting was captured on dramatic cellphone video by a bystander.

The defense contends Scott wrestled control of Slager's Taser from the officer before the shooting.

During cross-examination, prosecutors again showed the cellphone video and asked Slager if it didn't show the Taser on the ground just before the shooting. Slager replied that at the time of the shooting he would have said the weapon was not on the ground, but that looking at the video can see that it was.

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10:30 a.m.

Michael Slager, choking back tears, says he felt "total fear" when a black motorist he had been chasing wrestled away his Taser and pointed the weapon at him.

Slager, a white fired North Charleston patrolman, testified in his own defense on Tuesday in his murder trial. Slager, who is white, faces 30 years to life if convicted in the shooting death of Walter Scott as he fled a traffic stop in April 2015. The shooting was captured on cellphone video that stunned the nation.

Slager testified that he was going to give Scott a warning ticket for a broken taillight when Scott ran from his car. He says he fired his stun gun three times at Scott. He says the two wrestled and Scott got control of his stun gun.

He says that's when he felt "total fear that Scott didn't stop." So when Scott broke free and began to run away again, he says he did what he was trained to do, firing at Scott "until the threat was stopped."

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9:30 a.m.

Michael Slager is on the witness stand in his murder trial in South Carolina.

Slager is the white former North Charleston patrolman who repeatedly shot Walter Scott in the back last year as the unarmed black motorist tried to run from a traffic stop.

The shooting in April 2015 was captured by a bystander on cellphone video that stunned the nation. Jurors have watched the video repeatedly during the trial.

Slager took the stand after Judge Clifton Newman reminded him he has a constitutional right not to testify. Slager said he understands that right and wanted to speak anyway.

Slager faces 30 years to life in prison if convicted of murder. The jury is expected to begin deliberating later this week.

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4:50 a.m.

Former South Carolina patrolman Michael Slager is taking the stand to tell his version of what happened when a black motorist was gunned down while fleeing a traffic stop.

Slager, who faces 30 years to life if convicted of murder in the April 2015 shooting death of 50-year-old Walter Scott, is expected to testify in his own defense Tuesday in a Charleston courtroom.

Scott, who was black, was shot five times in the back while running from the white officer. The shooting was captured by a bystander on cellphone video. Slager was fired from the North Charleston Police Department and charged with murder when the video became public.

The defense contends Scott wrestled with the officer and got control of Slager's Taser before the shooting.
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