Roughly two months after former South Carolina police officer Michael Slager fatally shot unarmed 50-year-old Walter Scott, a grand jury has decided to indict him on a murder charge that could land him behind bars for more than 30 years.
South Carolina prosecutor Scarlett Wilson made the announcement Monday that Slager had been officially charged with murder — a ruling that may have never happened without a bystander’s video of the shooting.
But while the video evidence is pretty damning, Wilson added that the real work has just begun.
“We will move forward now in preparing our case,” Wilson said. “Really the prosecution work has just begun.”
The prosecution hopes to prove that Slager killed Scott “with malice aforethought.”
While Slager’s freedom is still hanging in the balance, his career as a police officer has already been decided.
The fatal shooting cost the 33-year-old his job after it was revealed that his original report of what happened was less than honest.
Slager insisted that he fired after a physical altercation with Scott who allegedly took the officer’s Taser.
Cellphone video of the incident failed to show any altercation but captured Slager firing several times at Scott as he ran away.
After Scott finally fell to the ground, Slager is seen dropping a dark object, believed to be the Taser, next to Scott’s body.
Scott was pronounced dead on the scene as Slager shared a light-hearted conversation with colleagues about the entire situation that was captured on police dash cams.
All the video evidence of the incident added to already growing frustrations around the country about police brutality, particularly when Black citizens are being targeted.
While the indictment isn’t a promise that justice will be served, it is a glimmer of hope for Scott’s family.
The attorney also expressed that the family is grateful at least that the “wheels of justice are turning the right way.”
Slager’s legal team, on the other hand, has decided to remain tight-lipped about the indictment.
“Until we have an opportunity to fully evaluate the state’s case and to compare it with our own investigation we will not be commenting on any aspect of the case,” Andrew Savage, Slager’s attorney, said.
As for Slager’s hopes of getting the case moved to another jurisdiction to prevent any bias, Wilson believes that request will fall on deaf ears.
“I feel sure the people of Charleston County can decide it,” Wilson said. “The issue is not whether or not someone has heard of this case. The issue is whether they can put everything they’ve heard aside and make a decision based on the facts and evidence presented in court.”