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Slager Released on Bond; Community Leaders Outraged
1/6/2016 5:19:49 PM

North Charleston NAACP Branch President Ed Bryant & National Action Network South Carolina President Elder James Johnson (second and third from left) address the media at a Press Conference held in front of the Charleston County Jail on Leeds Avenue January 5, 2016. Photo: Tolbert Smalls, Jr.

Walter Scott, right, was shot to death by police officer Michael Slager, left, on Saturday, April 4, 2015 in North Charleston, South Carolina.
By Barney Blakeney

Former North Charleston police officer Michael Slager, accused of the April 2015 murder of Walter Scott, was released on bond January 4. Slager’s release nine months after the incident came as a surprise to members of the local NAACP and National Action Network which have said the case exemplifies the fact that law enforcement officers face few if any consequences after killing unarmed Black suspects.

The April 4 police shooting death of 50-year-old Walter Lamar Scott gunned down by Slager as Scott ran away after a traffic stop was caught on a video showing Slager take a three-point shooting stance and firing eight rounds at a fleeing Scott hitting him with five rounds. The video appeared three days after Scott was killed. Prior to that, Slager contended he shot Scott during a struggle for Slager’s taser. North Charleston police immediately charged Slager with murder and arrested him.

Slager was released on $500,000 surety bond which required he only put up $50,000.

Slager will remain under house arrest until his trail date set for October. His attorneys argued that holding Slager at the county’s detention center until then violated his right to a speedy trial.

Opponents to Slager’s release counter that most suspects of murder are detained at the detention center much longer while awaiting trial.

“I think the judge got it wrong,” said South Carolina National Action Network Director James Johnson. “Some suspects at the detention center are there more than two years waiting for trial. Why is Slager given special treatment?”

The fact that Slager has received financial support from law enforcement associations as well as individual officers in the North Charleston Police Department frightens him, Johnson said. “They’re supporting someone who was caught on tape committing murder. That scares me,” he said.

“Everybody has a right to bond, but bond was denied Slager on the merit of the case,” Johnson reasons. Judge Clifton Newman previously denied bond sighting Slager as a danger to the community and a flight risk.

“What’s changed? Anybody who would shoot someone in the back has a psychological problem. That makes him a danger to the community. And slager has nothing to lose. Of course he’s a flight risk.”

North Charleston NAACP President Ed Bryant said Slager’s unexpected release only indicates that 2016 must be an aggressive year for those who challenge dual standards of justice enjoyed by police officers in cases of questionable police shootings.

“It’s a mystery why Michael Slager is out of jail, but we’re faced with a judicial system that hasn’t always worked best for people of color. We’re going to support any efforts for another hearing to revoke Slager’s bond,” Bryant said. Various organizations will be meeting to determine an appropriate response to Slager’s release, he said.

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