Michael Slager, the former South Carolina police officer charged with murder in the April shooting of Walter Scott, was released from prison on Monday after posting bail. Slager, 34, has been in jail since three days after the shooting, when video surfaced of the white North Charleston officer shooting the 50-year-old black man in the back as he ran away. Judge Clifton Newman set bond at $500,000 and set October 31 as his trial date. Slager must remain under house arrest until then.
Slager’s trial will be delayed because Ninth Circuit solicitor Scarlett Wilson is also the lead prosecutor in the trial of alleged Emanuel AME Church shooter Dylann Roof, which is scheduled to take place this summer. According to the Post and Courier, Judge Newman said holding Slager for so many months would amount to pretrial punishment, but Wilson argued nothing has changed since the former officer was deemed a flight risk. She also argued it’s dangerous to free a suspect who feels wronged by his arrest, and “It’s been clear from the start that he claims the role of the victim.”
Slager spoke during the hearing, saying, “I look forward to going to court and clearing my name.” Members of Scott’s family gasped in court when the decision was announced. “The family is pleased at how the Charleston community has responded throughout this situation and asks again for calm following this decision,” they said in a statement. “They will now anxiously await Michael Slager’s criminal trial and continue to thank the community for their prayers and support.”