A federal judge should not allow prosecutors to use statements that an ex-South Carolina police officer gave to investigators about shooting an unarmed driver who ran from a traffic stop because authorities lied about a video of the killing, defense lawyers say.
Those same lawyers also said in a flurry of motions on Friday the video itself should not be shown to jurors.
Prosecutors asked in their motions to stop defense lawyers from mentioning police officers who die in the line of duty or suggesting jurors can send a message about the treatment of police through a not guilty verdict.
Michael Slager only spoke to state investigators three days after the April 2015 shooting on the advice of his first lawyer, who asked agents if there was any video of the shooting and was told there wasn’t, defense lawyer Andy Savage wrote in a brief filed Friday.
Slager goes on trial in May in federal court for violating Walter Scott’s civil rights by shooting and killing the black man after pulling him over for a broken brake light. Meanwhile, state prosecutors have promised a retrial on a murder charge after Slager’s state trial ended in a hung jury.
Before recommending he talk to State Law Enforcement Division agents, Slager’s first lawyer, David Aylor, asked if there was any video or evidence from the coroner about where Scott was shot to guide his advice.
Prosecutors said a SLED agent gave a vague answer. But in an email to Savage, Aylor said she “wasn’t vague. She lied.”
Savage doesn’t want jurors to see the video of the shooting made by a bystander and broadcast worldwide. He said it doesn’t show the entire encounter between Slager and Scott, including how Scott took Slager’s Taser and tried to shock him with it, making the officer fear for his life.
A judge at Slager’s state trial ruled the video could be presented as evidence. He also ruled police are allowed to be deceptive with suspects and attorneys when they question them, as long as they inform them of their rights.
At last year’s trial, prosecutors noted that Slager’s statements were contradicted by the bystander video. The video showed Slager, who is white shoot several times at Scott’s back as he ran away.
Prosecutors on Friday asked the judge to prevent defense lawyers from presenting evidence that Slager was a good officer before the shooting. They also don’t want the defense to introduce evidence of low staffing in the North Charleston police department.
Slager’s lawyers presented that type of evidence in the state trial.
In all, 11 motions were filed Friday, including a defense motion asking for permission to file more motions if needed.
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