A federal grand jury decided this week to indict Michael Slager, the former North Charleston, South Carolina police officer who shot and killed Walter Scott last year, on charges of violating civil rights law.
The Post and Courier reported Wednesday that Slager, who is white, was charged with three alleged crimes: that he used excessive force in his power as a police officer to kill Scott, who was black; used a firearm in a violent crime; and misled officers investigating the case.
Slager initially said Scott charged at him with a Taser when he fired. But video of the incident released in April 2015 showed Slager shooting Scott as Scott ran away from him.
The fresh charges come in addition to Slager’s indictment on murder charges after the video of the shooting surfaced last April. Slager was released in January after he spent weeks in jail and posted bail.
Slager’s trial on murder charges is scheduled for Oct. 31, but there are efforts underway to push that trial date back so that prosecutors may try Charleston church shooter Dylann Roof first.
The Post and Courier described the new civil rights charges as a “backstop” for if the murder case against Slager were to fail. The charges in the state and federal indictments are different and would not qualify as double jeopardy. The maximum sentence for the federal charges would be life in prison, according to the newspaper.