Now that dash cam video and a new witness account have emerged from the day Walter Scott was shot by a South Carolina police officer, a new question has emerged: Could either affect whether Slager gets convicted of murder?
The dash cam footage shows Slager talking calmly to Scott during a traffic stop for a broken taillight. Scott said he has no insurance on the vehicle, and Slager returns to his car to do paperwork.
Moments later, Scott gets out of his car and bolts. A foot chase ensues. Scott never reappears on the dash cam video, but a witness later takes video of the officer shooting Scott several times in the back as he is running away.
Many say the footage does nothing to justify Slager shooting the unarmed man in the back.
“Nothing in this video demonstrates that the officer’s life or the life of another was threatened,” National Urban League President Marc Morial said. “The question here is whether the use of force was excessive.”
On Thursday, a new witness emerged in the case. Gwen Nichols told CNN’s Brian Todd that she saw a scuffle between Scott and Slager at the entrance to a vacant lot.
“It was like a tussle type of thing, like, you know, like, ‘What do you want?’ or ‘What did I do?’ type of thing,” Nichols said. “I didn’t hear Mr. Slager saying: ‘Stop!’ ”
Feidin Santana, the witness who captured the killing on a cell phone video, has also said he saw a brawl between Scott and Slager.
Criminal defense attorney Paul Callan says he believes Slager’s defense will play up the scuffle in arguing that this is not a murder case.
“Defense attorneys will say this was a heat of passion shooting — (that) this was something that he did suddenly after some kind of an altercation, a physical altercation with a suspect,” Callan said. “And that would constitute manslaughter under law, as opposed to murder, and it makes a huge difference in sentencing.”
In South Carolina, a murder conviction requires “malice or forethought,” Callan said. Some other states say a murder requires premeditation.
Slager, who has been fired from the North Charleston Police Department, faces up to life in prison or the death penalty if he is convicted of murder.
By Holly Yan
Warning- Raw video of shooting: