In April 2015, South Carolina police officer Michael Slager, pictured above, fatally shot Walter Scott, an unarmed 50-year-old black man. Video evidence showed Slager shooting Scott multiple times in the back as Scott was running away. The white police officer's murder trial started this week in Charleston, and if convicted, Slager could face 30 years to life in prison.
Opening statements in the trial were delivered on Thursday morning, and prosecutors argued that the shooting of Walter Scott was not justified. For nearly 30 minutes, Solicitor Scarlett Wilson spoke to the jury, which includes 11 white people and one black man, according to the Post and Courier. Even if Scott may have provoked Slager by wrestling for his stun gun, Wilson argued, that doesn't justify the shooting of Scott.
Wilson argued that Scott shouldn't have resisted when he was pulled over for a broken taillight. "If Walter Scott had not resisted arrest, he wouldn’t have been shot," Wilson said. "He paid the extreme consequence for his conduct. He lost his life for his foolishness." With that said, Wilson argued that Slager is on trial for murder because of what happened after Scott had freed himself from Slager.
Following the shooting, Slager's "first instinct wasn't to give CPR, it was to stage [the crime scene]," Wilson said, noting that Slager moved the Taser closer to Scott's body. And it was all caught on film. "Michael Slager didn't know that somebody was watching him. And he surely didn't know that that somebody was holding a cellphone," Wilson said. Wilson asked the jury "to bring accountability to Michael Slager for his actions."
Lawyers for the 34-year-old former cop argued in their opening statement that Slager was acting in self-defense. Time reports that defense attorney Andy Savage tried to blame Scott for his own death. "Why did he choose not to respect the request to stay where he was?" Savage asked. "That’s something that I hope you consider. It wasn’t Mr. Slager who was angry and full of animosity."
Just last week, Savage went even further. He told NBC News, "I don't think Scott can wear a badge of victim." Savage added that Scott's death "was due to the actions of Mr. Scott—not the actions of Mr. Slager."