Bail denied for ex-cop on murder charge in black man's death

Published Sept. 15, 2015

CHARLESTON, S.C. — A white former South Carolina police officer charged with murder in the shooting death of a black motorist won't be released before his trial.

Circuit Judge Clifton Newman on Monday denied bail for Michael Slager. He said in a brief order that releasing Slager would "constitute an unreasonable danger to the community."

The former North Charleston officer has been held in solitary confinement since his arrest on murder charges in the April 4 shooting death of Walter Scott.

A bystander's cellphone video showed Slager firing eight times as Scott tried to run from a traffic stop. The incident inflamed the national debate about how blacks are treated by law officers.

Prosecution and defense attorneys sparred over the bail question during a hearing Thursday and met again to discuss the case Friday.

"After careful consideration of all the evidence presented and the nature and the circumstances of the offense, the court finds that the release of (the) defendant would constitute an unreasonable danger to the community and the request for release on bond should be denied," the order said.

Prosecutor Scarlett Wilson on Thursday had called Slager "a firing squad and executioner" and said he planted evidence, taking his Taser from where it fell and dropping it near Scott's body hundreds of feet away.

Slager's attorneys argued that their client posed no threat to the public. Among the 150 pages of documents they filed ahead of the hearing was a toxicology report showing there was cocaine in Scott's blood when he was killed, and a psychological assessment saying Slager poses little future danger of committing violence.

The Associated Press left messages with the prosecutor and Slager's defense attorney seeking comment.

In the immediate aftermath of the shooting, Scott's family called for peace. Some have credited their action with staving off the protests and violence that have erupted in other cities where black men have died during encounters with police. If Slager were released, some community leaders had warned that could change rapidly.

Slager, 33, faces 30 years to life without parole if convicted of murder.