Former police officer Michael Slager, who is accused of murdering an unarmed Black man, took the stand in his own murder trial this morning. Testimony was continuing at press time.
Slager, who is White, is accused of killing Walter Scott at a traffic stop on April 4, 2015, in North Charleston, South Carolina. The incident was captured on video, and shows Slager shooting Scott in the back as he tried to run away.
ABC News reports that Feidin Santana, the man who filmed the video, was called to testify by the prosecution earlier this month. Santana told the court he saw an officer chasing Scott, heard what he thought was a Taser, and saw the officer punch the man once the man was on the ground. He said Slager was holding onto Scott but Scott was able to get away.
“After he got away … [the officer] shoot the man running from him,” Santana said. “And he shot until he gets on the ground.”
The Post and Courier reports that Slager shot at Scott eight times last year as Scott ran away; he said Scott had taken his Taser. Experts have estimated that Scott was up to 18 feet away when Slager started shooting. Five bullets hit him from behind.
Journalist TJ Holmes has been live tweeting Slager’s testimony, which began with the prosecution and ended with the defense examination
Slager, 34, has pleaded not guilty to murder. Slager’s attorneys have said the witness video doesn’t show the whole struggle between Slager and Scott and does not give the perspective of events from Slager’s point of view.
Slager, who was fired by the North Charleston police department, faces 30 years to life if he is convicted.