Selection of jurors for the federal civil rights trial against a white, former North Charleston officer who shot a fleeing, unarmed black motorist in the back, will be held in Columbia.
Jury selection for the trial of former officer Michael Slager is scheduled to begin May 9 in Columbia, said U.S. District Judge David Norton in an order issued Monday.
Slager is charged with civil rights violations in the death of Walter Scott, who took off running during a traffic stop.
A passerby would catch on video a struggle between the two, before Scott took off running again. The video then shows Slager firing his weapon repeatedly, striking Scott in the back. Slager’s defense team argued during his state trial that he feared for his life when Scott got control of Slager’s stun gun.
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Though Slager’s murder trial in state court ended in a mistrial in December, Slager still faces a civil rights trial in federal court. The federal trial is scheduled to begin May 15.
The decision to hold jury selection in Columbia is the result of Norton granting a request from Slager’s attorneys to pull jurors from throughout the state for the trial.
In January, attorneys Andy Savage of Charleston and Shaun Kent of Manning filed a motion requesting jurors be pulled from beyond the Lowcountry because of the case’s “extensive pretrial publicity.”
A little over a week later, federal prosecutors Eric Klumb and Jared Fishman filed a response against the request, arguing that using a jury pool from Charleston and Beaufort counties should be sufficient.
In the response, both prosecutors said Slager’s defense team could not show the publicity of the trial in the Charleston and Beaufort areas exceeded that in other parts of the state.
Both prosecutors also argued that pulling jurors from as far as Pickens County would require a juror to make a daily eight-hour round trip for the trial or the court would have to provide lodging, “in both instances generating additional court costs.”
Norton acknowledged both filings in his order, but did not comment on either beyond saying he gave them “careful consideration” before granting the request by Slager’s defense team.
Staff writer John Monk contributed to this story.