Cop who shot unarmed black man in the back indicated
A federal grand jury this week indicted former North Charleston officer Michael Slager on charges of violating a civil rights law and misleading investigators in Walter Scott’s death, a rare measure in police shootings that gives authorities another route to reach a conviction.
Chief among the three charges is a count of deprivation of civil rights under the color of law. Public officials are barred under the federal statute from using their powers to violate people’s “rights, privileges or immunities.” The indictment alleges that Slager was acting with his authority as a policeman when he used unreasonable force — a violation of the Constitution — by shooting Scott five times from behind.
He also was indicted on counts of using a firearm in a violent crime and obstruction of justice. He’s accused of telling state investigators that Scott was coming at him with his own Taser when he fired. A video showed Scott running away.
The officer is white and Scott was black, but race is not alleged to have played a role.
“This is history,” Chris Stewart, a Scott family attorney, said Wednesday. “It could be a turning point in history that the federal government is no longer going to sit on the sidelines. They’re going to make police officers face federal justice.”
The grand jury first met nearly a month ago and handed down the indictment Tuesday. It was made public Wednesday.