Michael Slager, the former Norther Charleston, S.C. cop charged with murdering Walter Scott, will be remanded to house arrest pending the start of his trial later this year. Slager was approved for $500,000 bail Monday (Jan. 4) after previously being denied release.
Reports the Post Courier:
The decision was met with gasps from Scott’s family and with tears from Michael Slager’s wife and parents, who appeared together for the first time in the downtown Charleston courtroom. Slager was released at 7 p.m. after posting $500,000 bail, a jail spokesman said. Under a surety bond, he would have to pay $50,000 of that total.
Under the judge’s order, he must stay on house detention in South Carolina. He can leave only for attorney and doctor visits, courtroom appearances and church services.
At the heart of Circuit Judge Clifton Newman’s decision was an order from the state Supreme Court that cleared the area’s top prosecutor from going to trial on other cases before accused mass murderer Dylann Roof is tried this summer. The order is why, Newman said, he had to set Slager’s trial for Oct. 31.
Meanwhile, Slager’s pretrial confinement could affect a sort of punishment on the former officer even while he is presumed innocent, the judge said. A defense attorney cited Slager’s celiac disease that has worsened with a jail diet containing gluten.
The prospect of months more behind bars prompted Newman to reconsider his decision denying bail in September, when he labeled Slager a danger to the community and a flight risk.
Last April, Slager was recorded by a bystander as he gunned down an unarmed Scott after a traffic stop. He has been in jail for the last eight months. Slager claimed he shot Scott after he attempted to use the officer’s taser against him. The recording contradicted Slager’s entire account of what happened.
Scott’s murder came amid a string of police shootings caught on tape last year, and led to more protests against brutality.
Justin Bamberg, an attorney for the Scott family, urged calm following the court decision. “We know that at the end of the day, the justice system is going to run its course.”
Photo: North Charleston PD