CHARLESTON, S.C. (AP) — A defense witness testified Wednesday that it appears Walter Scott threw a Taser as he confronted Michael Slager seconds before the North Charleston patrolman shot Scott five times in the back fleeing a traffic stop.
Slager, who was fired after release of a dramatic cellphone video of the April 2015 shooting that stunned the nation, is on trial for murder. The 50-year-old Scott, who was unarmed, was black. Slager is white.
The defense has been building a case that the men struggled over control of Slager's Taser just before the shooting.
Eugene Liscio of Toronto, Canada, an expert in 3D reconstruction of crime scenes, recreated the scene of the Scott shooting that occurred in a vacant lot.
He used the cellphone video taken by a bystander and laser scans of the area. The technology allows the scene to be shifted, much like scenes in a video game, so the viewer can see what happened from different perspectives.
Liscio testified that just before the shooting the Taser is seen falling to the ground. He added that from the speed and direction of weapon, it was unlikely Slager dropped or kicked it. "The physical evidence points back to it's being thrown," he testified.
At the time, he said, the men were just over two feet apart.
He said Slager's left hand was grabbing Scott's right wrist while Slager's right hand was positioned to pull his service revolver from its holster. Scott's left hand, he said, was holding a cellphone.
Video frames from before that point are blurry and Liscio conceded on cross-examination that it was difficult to know what either man may have held in their hands before then.
The jury has seen 3D animations of the crime scene created by witnesses for both the defense and the prosecution. But defense attorney Don McCune renewed a request that the jury of eleven whites and one black be permitted to visit the scene.
"It may help the jury to go out and see it for themselves," he said.
But Solicitor Scarlett Wilson said that with all the evidence that's been introduced "there is not jury that has seen more of a crime scene than this jury."
Judge Clifton Newman said he would think about the request but said if the jury visits the scene it would be after all the evidence is presented and before closing arguments.
Court recessed at noon Wednesday for the Thanksgiving holiday. Testimony resumes Monday with the case expected to go to the jury late next week.