CHARLESTON, S.C. (AP) — Activists in North Charleston want a new prosecutor to handle the case of a white former police officer charged with murder in the shooting death of a black man that was captured on a dramatic cellphone video.
The Rev. James Johnson of the National Action Network and Thomas Dixon of People United Take Back Our Community told reporters on Thursday that Charleston-area solicitor Scarlett Wilson is too close to the North Charleston Police Department to ensure a fair trial in the case of Michael Slager.
"This is too important. The eyes of the world are looking," Johnson said during a news conference outside the Charleston County Courthouse. "That relationship Ms. Wilson has with all the police departments around here is too close."
The two leaders said they will write Wilson asking that she step aside. They said they will also write Attorney General Alan Wilson to appoint a prosecutor from outside the area to try the case.
"We think it's time for true transparency," Dixon said. "In order to have the appearance of appropriate action, we're asking her to step away."
The AP left a message with Wilson on Thursday seeking comment.
Slager, who was been fired from the police force, is charged with murder in the April 4 shooting death of 50-year-old Walter Scott. The shooting was captured on cellphone video recorded by a man walking past and shows Slager firing eight shots at Scott as he ran from a traffic stop. The video reignited the national debate over shooting of blacks by white police officers.
Wilson has said earlier that, based on the facts in the case, the death penalty does not appear to apply. Under state law, death can only be sought in a killing with aggravating circumstances such as robbery or kidnapping.
Slager, who is 33, faces 30 years to life in prison if convicted.