CHARLESTON, S.C. (AP) — The defense and prosecution are at odds over the trial date for a former South Carolina police officer charged with killing an unarmed black motorist.
A lawyer for former North Charleston officer Michael Slager — who is shown on cellphone video firing eight times as 50-year-old Walter Scott runs from a traffic stop — filed a motion Friday requesting a speedy trial. Attorney Andy Savage told a judge he could be ready in March or April.
But prosecutor Scarlett Wilson told Circuit Judge Clifton Newman that the trial should be held in nearly a year; she suggested a start date of Nov. 9. Wilson also is trying the case of Dylann Roof in the deadly Charleston church shootings, and she cited a state Supreme Court order protecting her from trying other cases before that one, which is scheduled for July.
But Savage said Slager has a constitutional right to a quick trial and that the defense won't agree to a date "in which our client would be in solitary confinement and isolation for 18 months." Slager has been in solitary confinement without bond since his April arrest.
The judge did not yet set a trial date. Wilson said the prosecution would make requested evidence, including the Taser used during the incident, available for testing by the defense. Because that will take some time, Newman said he would set another hearing on the status of the trial late next month.
Attention over the case and the bystander's cellphone video enflamed a national debate about how blacks are treated by white police officers.
Slager, a white 34-year-old, 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 have sent the state a letter saying that Slager could face charges.
"It's unclear if they are going to get involved," she said.