CHARLESTON, S.C. (AP) — The attorney for a white former South Carolina police officer charged with murder in the shooting death of an unarmed black motorist asked a judge Tuesday to keep the dramatic cellphone video of the shooting out of the trial.
The motion came as a jury pool was qualified to hear the case of former North Charleston officer Michael Slager. He faces 30 years to life in prison if convicted in the April 2015 shooting of Walter Scott.
The video shot by a bystander shocked the nation, showing the 50-year-old Scott being shot eight times in the back.
In a motion filed Tuesday, Slager’s attorney Andy Savage called the video “prejudicial, inflammatory and factually deficient.” He said it was taken from the point of the bystander, Feidin Santana, 137 feet away and not from the officer’s perspective.
“In addition to the fact that the Santana video is obscured or blurry and thus confusing, more critically, it misdirects the factfinder’s attention to a perspective other than that of Officer Slager,” the motion said.
It also says the video does not show the entire fight that took place between Slager and Scott, who was shot while fleeing a traffic stop.
The motion says that if the video is allowed into evidence, it should not be shown in slow motion because that implies that Slager had malicious intent toward Scott. “Slow motion tends to unfairly suggest greater purpose or intent on behalf of actors,” the motion said.
Savage has said in previous hearings that the short video seen worldwide never showed the full details of the incident, including the two men tussling on the ground, with Scott on top of the officer as they wrestled, and Slager warning Scott that he would shoot.
Judge Clifton Newman individually questioned nine potential jurors late Tuesday after a pool of about 130 was qualified. The questions ranged from postings that appeared on one man’s Facebook page to whether a woman’s religious beliefs could affect her ability to render an impartial verdict.
Seventy-five potential jurors were randomly picked from the pool. They were expected be presented to attorneys who will be able to use strikes remove some of those they don’t want late Tuesday.
But the defense wanted more time to review those in the pool. The jury will be seated Wednesday morning and opening arguments could come later in the day.
During the jury roll call behind closed doors, potential jurors were polled on whether they had seen the shooting video. During the hearing the judge said the clerk of court can provide that information to the press and public. The information was not available late Tuesday.
Savage also asked the judge to order that information about Santana be made available to the defense, including how much he made from selling the video. Santana’s attorney, State Rep. Todd Rutherford argued the information was protected by attorney-client privilege. But he said he would make it available to the court for Newman to review before deciding whether it could be released to the defense.