A state judge approved bail Monday for a former South Carolina police officer charged with killing an unarmed black motorist.
Circuit Judge Clifton Newman in Charleston allowed a $500,000 surety bond for Michael Slager. Newman also set an Oct. 31 trial date. Slager will have to remain in South Carolina while on bail.
The Charleston County Sheriff’s Office said on Twitter that Slager made bond and was released from jail at 7 p.m. Monday.
Attorneys for Slager, who is white and charged with murder in the shooting death of Walter Scott in April, had said they would be ready for trial this spring.
Newman issued his order after an hourlong hearing on the defense’s motion for a speedy trial and a renewed request for bail.
Defense attorney Andy Savage renewed the bail request, saying that Slager otherwise would face 11 more months of incarceration and has been held in solitary confinement. He has remained in jail since his arrest in April.
Wilson said there had been no change in circumstances to warrant Slager’s release, and added, “We believe the defendant remains, as the court found, a danger to the community and a flight risk.”
“If we let him out, he’s going to go home to see his wife and children. All I can look at is a pot of flowers,” Scott said.
Before issuing his ruling, the judge said: “These are difficult issues. These are excruciating issues for the court to deal with.”
He said he was troubled that the trial was being delayed because of the order in the Dylann Roof case.
Slager, a former North Charleston police officer, is shown on cellphone video firing eight times as Scott ran from a traffic stop.
Slager, 34, faces 30 years to life without parole if convicted. Wilson has said the death penalty doesn’t apply because there are no aggravating circumstances such as robbery or kidnapping.
In October, the city of North Charleston approved a $6.5-million civil settlement with Scott’s family.
After the shooting, the U.S. Justice Department said it was looking into possible federal civil rights violations in the case. On Friday, Wilson said federal officials had sent the state a letter saying that Slager could face charges.
“It’s unclear if they are going to get involved,” she said.