Former North Charleston, S.C., police officer Michael Slager has been charged with murder in the shooting death of Walter Lamar Scott after a traffic stop Sunday. A video that surfaced this week shows Slager shooting at Scott as Scott is running away -- contradicting Slager's earlier account of the shooting.
What Slager says happened
According to an initial statement released Monday by Slager’s then attorney, David Aylor, the incident began as a “routine traffic stop,” but “quickly escalated.”
Slager, through his attorney, said Scott fled his vehicle while a passenger stayed in the car. Slager reached for his Taser, the statement says, and a struggle ensued, as Scott tried to “overpower Officer Slager in an effort to take his Taser.”
Slager said that, feeling threatened, he reached for his gun and fired at Scott.
According to incident reports from other officers, Slager said over the radio, “Shots fired and the subject is down. He took my Taser.”
What we know about Slager’s work history
According to his former attorney and his personnel file with the department, Slager had been with the North Charleston Police Department for five years. North Charleston Mayor R. Keith Summey confirmed Tuesday that Slager has been fired.
A statement from his former attorney said Slager had “no disciplinary issues” during his five years with the force.
City records show Slager was accused in September 2013 of using excessive force after the officer deployed his stun gun in a physical altercation during a burglary investigation. In that incident, a burglary victim led officers to an address where the suspect lived. According to witness statements, Slager used his stun gun on a man who was not the burglary suspect, despite the fact that the burglary victim and the man, who was black, told Slager he was not the person police were looking for. One witness claimed that Slager told the man he would be Tased if he did not exit the apartment, and when he did, he was “Tased for no reason” and “slammed” and “dragged” by the officer. The department's internal affairs bureau ultimately exonerated Slager.
Slager had previously served in the U.S. Coast Guard in Florida for six years, according to his job application to the department. Before that, the application says, he worked as a waiter in New Jersey.
What we know about Slager’s personal life
Slager is 33 and has been living in Hanahan, S.C., a few miles from North Charleston. His wife is eight months pregnant, according to Mayor R. Keith Summey. Slager graduated from high school in Medford, N.J., according to police department records.
Slager’s current legal situation
Slager was arrested Tuesday and charged with murder in connection with Scott’s death.
He appeared without an attorney during his first court appearance Tuesday, the Associated Press reported. He was denied bond and could face 30 years to life in prison if convicted of murder.
His former attorney, David Aylor, told The Times that he had removed himself as Slager’s attorney Tuesday. He would not say why, and it’s not clear who is representing Slager now.
The FBI is also investigating the incident, the Justice Department announced. The South Carolina Law Enforcement Division, the state’s criminal investigative body, is also investigating. For more breaking news, follow me @cmaiduc