Pathologist, lead SLED agent among those still set to testify in Michael Slager trial
The forensic pathologist who did an autopsy on Walter Scott’s body and estimated the trajectory that five bullets took before hitting Scott may take the witness stand Wednesday in a downtown Charleston courtroom.
Prosecutors had been expected to use about a week to present their murder case against former North Charleston police officer Michael Slager, who was filmed by a witness shooting Scott in the back as Scott ran away. The end of Wednesday, the fifth day of testimony, will mark that point.
But some portions of the proceeding have played out slower than anticipated, leaving it uncertain if the prosecution can wrap up its case this week. The courthouse is closed Friday for Veterans Day. Court officials said next week also will be abbreviated.
Key witnesses remain. The state’s lead crime-scene investigator, whose testimony was cut short Tuesday by an early recess for Election Day, cannot return to the stand until Thursday because of a medical appointment, he said in the courtroom.
Slager, who is white, pulled over Scott’s car April 4, 2015, for a broken brake light. Scott, a black man, soon ran, and the officer tried to stop him with a Taser. But as Slager tried to handcuff him, Scott fought back on the ground and grabbed the stun gun, the officer has said. Slager said Scott was pointing the Taser at him as they stood, so he pulled his pistol and fired. The officer said Scott was turning when he pulled the trigger.
The witness’ video footage showed Scott pivoting and running away, distancing himself by several yards before the first gunshot went off.
Defense attorney Andy Savage has said the pathologist at Medical University Hospital who examined Scott’s determined that the bullets had taken a somewhat sideways angle before they struck Scott. The shots didn’t hit Scott directly from behind, the lawyer has explained.
It’s unknown if North Charleston Police Chief Eddie Driggers will be called to the witness stand, though his testimony would not fit chronologically into the state’s case. Some officers who recorded Slager’s early account of the shooting already have testified, but Driggers could speak about the physical demonstration that Slager performed at the scene. Slager showed how he said Scott wrested a Taser from his hands.
Driggers told that story during a pretrial hearing in the case.
Also still expected to testify is Angela Peterson, a special agent who led the probe for the State Law Enforcement Division and interviewed Slager three days after the shooting, then arrested him.