When they return to court Monday, jurors will have had three days to ruminate on questions they heard from attorneys hoping to upend the case against the policeman who killed Walter Scott.
With all but a few of the 27 witnesses called in former North Charleston patrolman Michael Slager’s murder trial, opposing attorneys have gone tit-for-tat in conveying their views of Scott’s shooting death through the questions they ask.
The presiding judge had cautioned them not to testify themselves through their own inquires, but the tactic has persisted. The defense’s challenge Thursday of a leading investigator was no different.
“You know that this whole case is not about the shooting; it’s about what led to the shooting. Isn’t that correct?” defense lawyer Andy Savage asked him.
“The case is what the case is,” Lt. Charles Ghent of the State Law Enforcement Division said.
A prosecutor, Chief Deputy Solicitor Bruce DuRant, sought to rebut the questioning.
“Did (Slager) appear to be in danger at the time he shot Mr. Scott?”
“He did not,” Ghent said.
For the prosecution, the hope is to portray Slager as an officer who turned vengeful in a sliver of time, and carried out a callous killing that was caught on video. The defense strategy is to turn some of the blame on Scott for running away and fighting the officer, to paint him as a drug user who disliked cops and bucked their authority.
The sides couldn’t disagree more, and the kind of courtroom confrontations that materialized in the first six days of testimony will not end as the trial enters its third week Monday.