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S.C. Judge Weighs Bail For White Ex-Officer Who Shot Black Man


Lawyers for a former police officer say there is more to his story than you have seen. The ex-officer is Michael Slager. He's white. He's accused of shooting and killing an unarmed black man from behind in North Charleston, S.C. He went to a bond hearing yesterday, five months after a cell phone video showed this incident and sparked widespread outrage. Slager was charged with murder. His attorneys contend the video doesn't show everything. NPR's Sarah McCammon reports.

SARAH MCCAMMON, BYLINE: The video from the April 4 shooting of Walter Scott is shaky and grainy. But for many people who watched it, one thing seemed clear.


MCCAMMON: The officer, Michael Slager, shoots Scott eight times as he runs away, following a traffic stop. In court, Slager's attorney, Andy Savage, said what the video doesn't show is what he calls a terribly violent struggle where Scott tries to grab Slager's Taser. He says several media outlets and the FBI have more footage.


ANDY SAVAGE: They have video that shows Mr. Slager being pummeled on the ground under the body of Mr. Scott.

MCCAMMON: It was just a bond hearing, but it felt like a trial. Savage said Slager got caught up in a moment of national scrutiny of police as allegations of excessive force against African-Americans made headlines around the country. After the video surfaced, Slager was arrested and charged with murder. His attorneys say there was a rush to judgment. Prosecutor Scarlett Wilson said Slager's injuries, a skinned knee, a minor cut on the hand, don't support Savage's story.


SCARLETT WILSON: We see officers all the time in this community who really do face violent attacks. It doesn't look like this.

MCCAMMON: Slager's attorneys painted him as a hard-working former paramedic and Coast Guard member who became a police officer. In courts, Savage displayed photos of Slager and his three children, including his infant son, born about a month after the shooting. There was also emotional testimony from the relatives of Walter Scott, including his mother, Judy. She said she prays for Slager and his family, but she can only visit her son at the cemetery.


JUDY SCOTT: Why should Slager have mercy? Why should he hug his son when I have to go down to Live Oak? I can't hear Walter anymore.

MCCAMMON: It's now up to the judge whether Slager should be allowed to post bond and go home until his trial begins. Civil rights activists are threatening protests if Slager is released. Sarah McCammon, NPR News, Charleston. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Sarah McCammon
Sarah McCammon is a National Correspondent covering the Mid-Atlantic and Southeast for NPR. Her work focuses on political, social and cultural divides in America, including abortion and reproductive rights, and the intersections of politics and religion. She's also a frequent guest host for NPR news magazines, podcasts and special coverage.
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