The Latest: Officer testifies about scene of police shooting

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Posted: Nov 04, 2016 5:17 PM
The Latest: Officer testifies about scene of police shooting

CHARLESTON, S.C. (AP) — The Latest on the trial of a former South Carolina police officer charged with the murder of an unarmed black man (all times local):

5:05 p.m.

Jurors in the trial of a white former South Carolina police officers charged with murder in the shooting death of an unarmed black motorist have heard from one of the first officers to arrive at the scene.

Clarence Habersham, who is no longer with the force, testified Friday that he found the motorist, Walter Scott, handcuffed on the ground on his stomach, showing no signs of life. He says he saw four or five gunshot wounds, all on the right side of Scott's back. He testified that he and another officer turned Scott over and that the other officer attempted CPR until emergency medical personnel arrived.

On cross-examination, Habersham said Slager appeared professional and agreed that he seemed to be a peacemaker in the community.

Asked if Slager was a hothead, Habersham said: "I didn't get that impression."

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4 p.m.

The defense of former police officer Michael Slager in South Carolina wanted to keep the jury from seeing a bystander's video that shows Slager killing Walter Scott.

But virtually the entire jury pool from which these jurors were selected said they had already seen the dramatic video, and assured the court they could still reach a just verdict based on the evidence presented, not pretrial publicity.

Most of the jury questioning was done behind closed doors. But a partial transcript was released on Friday at Slager's murder trial.

It shows that of about 190 potential jurors, only nine told the judge they had not seen the video. The court has not made available similar numbers pertaining to the final jury.

The jurors did watch the video in court on Friday.

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3:50 p.m.

The prosecution at Michael Slager's murder trial has called Tawayne Weems, an assistant principal at a high school in North Charleston who described helping Santana after the shooting.

Weems said he helped Feidin Santana contact relatives of Walter Scott and the family's attorneys. It was in the back seat of Weems' car when Scott's family first saw Santana's video.

Weems said Santana was anxious and concerned for his safety for days after the shooting.

"His life had changed," Weems said. "There was more anxiety because he had witnessed an officer shooting someone."

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3:40 p.m.

The 25-year-old barber whose cellphone video showed a white police officer fatally shooting an unarmed black man running away from him in South Carolina has undergone a lengthy cross-examination.

Feidin Santana testified earlier Friday that he could hear the electrical sounds of a stun gun as Michael Slager tried to subdue Walter Scott.

But defense attorney Andy Savage asked if anyone had ever told him that a stun gun only makes that loud sound when it fails to make an electrical connection. Santana replied he didn't remember.

Savage also extensively questioned Santana about money he's made from the video, asking about a contract to sell the rights for $50,000. Santana said he had signed a contract with a celebrity agent in Australia, and the money went to his family in the Dominican Republic.

Santana also said under close questioning Santana that he never saw Scott punch the officer, and that when the two men were wrestling on the ground, the only person he saw on top was Slager.

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1:30 p.m.

The bystander whose cellphone video shows former officer Michael Slager shooting Walter Scott is being cross-examined on the witness stand.

Defense attorney Andy Savage has questioned Feidin Santana about some song lyrics he wrote months before the shooting.

The lyrics include the phrase: "Those who must defend us are the worst criminals. Who can I trust?"

Savage asked if that was how Santana saw things when he made the recording.

Santana replied that he's "not against any law enforcement."

He said: "I am against police brutality."

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12:30 p.m.

Feidin Santana, the bystander who took the cellphone video of officer Michael Slager shooting Walter Scott, has explained why he didn't immediately turn the evidence over to North Charleston police.

Santana said he initially thought Scott was still alive and could say what happened, so the video wouldn't matter. Also, he was planning to return to his native Dominican Republic and didn't want to be caught up in court.

Once he learned Scott was dead, he reached out to the victim's family and made a copy for their lawyers. Then, he met with State Law Enforcement Division agents and turned over his cellphone.

He says he didn't know the video was going to be shown to the media, but once it was, he started doing interviews and got royalties, using the money to buy a car and help his son and daughter.

But he said he paid his own air fare to return to South Carolina for the trial.

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11:35 a.m.

The jury in the murder trial of a former North Charleston police officer who shot an unarmed man during a traffic stop is watching a video showing part of the encounter. Feidin Santana recorded officer Michael Slager shooting the fleeing Walter Scott.

The 25-year-old barber said he was walking to work when he saw a black man running from a white officer, and pressed record, in his words, "to prevent something that might happen."

Santana said the men wrestled on the ground, and he could hear an electric sound that he later learned came from Slager's stun gun.

The defense wanted jurors to be told that the proper perspective to consider the action would be from the officer's perspective. They also wanted to keep prosecutors from showing the video in slow motion.

The judge denied both motions.

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9:45 a.m.

Court has resumed in Charleston, South Carolina, in the trial of a former South Carolina police officer charged with murder in the shooting death of an unarmed black motorist.

The prosecution has called Feidin Santana, the bystander who took dramatic cellphone video of the shooting of Walter Scott by Michael Slager, who is white.

Defense attorney Andy Savage contends that allowing the jury to see the video would be prejudicial and inflammatory. He filed a motion earlier this week asking the judge to keep the video out of the trial.

The video shot by Santana shows Slager shooting eight times at Scott as Scott fled from a traffic stop in North Charleston in April 2015. The video was widely seen on the internet and stunned the nation.

Slager faces 30 years to life if convicted of murder in the slaying.

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3:30 a.m.

The family of a black South Carolina motorist shot and killed by a white policeman says they are not worried that the fate of the case is in the hands of a nearly all-white jury.

A jury of 11 whites and one black is hearing the murder trial of Michael Slager in Charleston.

Chris Stewart, an attorney for the family of victim Walter Scott, says it doesn't matter what race the jurors are. He says any jurors with two eyes and a brain will reach a just decision after seeing a dramatic video of Scott being shot fleeing an April 2015 traffic stop.

Scott's brother Rodney says the family is praying for justice. Testimony in Slager's trial enters a second day Friday.