In closing arguments this afternoon in the state trial of former police officer Michael Slager, who is accused of murdering an unarmed black man in South Carolina, the defense blasted the media for creating what was described as a false narrative, while the prosecution told the jury, “You can get it right.”
Slager, who is white, is accused of killing Walter Scott at a traffic stop on April 4, 2015, in North Charleston while Slager was an officer with the city’s police department.
Witness video that surfaced shortly after the deadly encounter appears to show the moment Slager fatally shot Scott as he ran away. The video garnered national attention, propelling Slager into the spotlight. He was fired from the force after the shooting, according to The Associated Press.
Slager has pleaded not guilty to murder. His 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.
In this state trial, the jury can now also consider a voluntary manslaughter charge, officials told ABC News today. The voluntary manslaughter charge was requested by the prosecution and the judge allowed it based on testimony he heard during the trial.
“The court must let the jury decide if the force used was reasonable,” Judge Clifton Newman said today. “That’s the essence of the case.”
In the prosecution’s closing arguments, Solicitor Scarlett Wilson described murder and voluntarily manslaughter. She said murder involves malice, which “has to be in the mind before the shots are fired.” She said malice is a feeling and an emotion. Voluntarily manslaughter, meanwhile, “is an unlawful killing in the heat of passion,” Wilson said.
Wilson said jurors must decide the difference between heat of passion and malice “because from a distance they can look the same.”