A South Carolina grand jury on Monday handed down a murder indictment against former North Charleston Police Officer Michael Slager, who was filmed shooting Walter Scott in the back during a traffic stop in early April.
“Just because you have video in a case doesn’t mean it’s the be-all, end-all and the case is over,” Charleston County Solicitor Scarlett Wilson said at a press conference to reveal the indictment.
Slager was arrested and charged with murder on April 7 after a video that gained worldwide attention surfaced showing the officer shooting Scott, who was running from him. Wilson said the case was presented to the grand jury Monday morning, which immediately returned the formal murder charge against Slager, 33.
According to police, Slager had pulled over Scott for a faulty taillight. Scott's family has said they believe the man ran from the traffic stop because he feared going to jail for owing back child support.
Police and Slager initially said that Scott, 50, was shot after a skirmish over the officer’s Taser stun gun. But when the bystander’s video showed Scott being shot eight times as he ran away, Slager was fired and jailed. The footage also shows Slager dropping an object — which has the appearance of a Taser — on the ground near Scott’s body.
“We felt like the facts ... warranted our seeking the murder indictment,” Wilson said during the press conference. “The jury will make up its own mind after it sees the video and hears the other testimony.”
Slager, who has been in jail without bond since his arrest, faces 30 years to life in prison if convicted. Wilson has previously said the case does not meet the state's threshhold for the death penalty since it didn't involve an aggrevating circumstance such as robbery or sexual assualt.
Andy Savage, the officer’s attorney, called Monday’s indictment “just another step in the criminal process.”
“Until we have an opportunity to fully evaluate the State’s case and to compare it with our own investigation we will not be commenting on any aspect of the case,” Savage said in an emailed statement.
Jason Sickles is a reporter for Yahoo News. Follow him on Twitter (@jasonsickles).