COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) — Lawyers for a white former South Carolina police officer charged with killing an unarmed black man running away from a traffic stop have filed notice they are seeking dismissal of his federal charges.
The request filed in federal court on Monday by attorneys for Michael Slager contends that forcing the former officer to defend himself against simultaneous state and federal charges is "crushing, unfair," and "highly prejudicial."
"The crushing financial, emotional, physical, and time requirements necessary to defend such a case amount to a violation of the federal constitution," his attorneys argued. "No legitimate ends of justice are served and the criminal process is burdened with an unnecessary and inefficient prosecution."
State prosecutors have charged Slager, 35, with shooting Walter Scott, 50, five times in the back as the motorist tried to flee a traffic stop in April 2015. The incident was captured by a bystander on cellphone video that was shared online and horrified many.
Charged with murder in state court, Slager's first trial ended in a hung jury, and prosecutors have said they will try him again later this year. His attorneys also have asked that those charges be dismissed, arguing that prosecuting him a second time on murder charges would violate his constitutional rights.
The former North Charleston officer's federal civil rights trial is scheduled to start in May. Slager's federal attorneys also have argued that prosecutors shouldn't be able to use the officer's statements to investigators against him at trial or show video of the shooting to jurors.
At last year's trial, prosecutors noted that Slager's statements were contradicted by the bystander video. The video showed Slager shoot several times at Scott's back as he ran away.
Also Monday, U.S. District Judge David Norton granted Slager's request to select jurors in his case from across South Carolina, beginning May 9.
Kinnard can be reached at http://twitter.com/MegKinnardAP. Read more of her work at http://bigstory.ap.org/content/meg-kinnard/