COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) — A former South Carolina police officer charged with murder in the shooting of Walter Scott as he ran away from a traffic stop wants his trial moved from Charleston, where a bystander’s video of the shooting has been widely seen.
Attorneys for Michael Slager paid for a survey in September that found 85 percent of Charleston County residents had seen the video of the North Charleston officer shooting Scott in April 2015.
The video doesn’t show the entire confrontation, and potential jurors who have viewed it might not be able to fairly consider their evidence, the lawyers said. Their motion will likely be considered at a pretrial hearing on Friday morning.
The motion also notes that the trial of Dylann Roof, charged with killing nine churchgoers in what police said was a racially motivated attack, will be taking place in the federal courthouse across the street. Slager’s jurors and witnesses would have to run a gauntlet of reporters, protesters and other attention-seekers, creating “a media spectacle to rival any ever seen in this or any town,” Slager’s lawyers said.
Slager also wants the trial moved because North Charleston paid a widely publicized $6.5 million settlement to Scott’s family that potential jurors might improperly consider proof of Slager’s guilt, the motion said.
“This is not just excessive publicity — it is excessive, prejudicial, incomplete and misleading publicity that offends Slager’s right to a fair trial,” his lawyers wrote.
The papers don’t make any suggestions where to move the trial. Jury selection is set to begin in Charleston County on Oct. 31, and Circuit Judge Clifton Newman has already issued a wide-ranging order addressing media coverage for Slager’s trial.
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