The family of Walter Scott had their first face-to-face meeting with former North Charleston officer Michael Slager Thursday, as the man charged with killing Scott appeared in court for a bond hearing. While Slager’s release remains in the hands of Judge Clifto n Newman, the moment did provide relief for the Scott family.
“Just to look in his face, it just did something to me,” said Anthony Scott, the victim’s oldest brother. “When you know someone that hates you and shows such hate towards someone that you love, and then when you can look at them in their face and not have that same hate in your heart, it lifted a load off of mine.”
On Friday, Judge Newman said he will arrive at his ruling as expeditiously as possible and attempted to set a court date for the official trial.
Slager, who is charged with killing Scott during a routine traffic stop, spoke in court Friday, pleading for his release on bond, saying he wishes to see his newborn son and will follow any stipulations set forth by the judge.
According to reports from inside the courtroom, Slager’s trial might not begin until late next year. Solicitor Scarlett A. Wilson of the prosecution is also currently involved in the case of Dylann Roof, who is charged with the murder of nine parishioners in Emanuel AME Church. Andy Savage, the lead attorney on Slager’s legal defense team, will also be busy in the upcoming months as the legal representative for three of the families who lost loved ones in June’s church shooting.
Slager’s bond hearing has drawn added attention to the possible use of mandatory quotas by the North Charleston Police Department. It was Slager’s defense team that raised the issue of required police stops and provided details that shocked the court.
“Each officer has to pull someone over three times a day. That is a quota system. They are told to pull people over in the city of North Charleston for any reason they can think of: broken taillight, minute brakelights out, radio too loud,” Scott family attorney Chris Stewart said following Thursday’s hearing. “Every jaw dropped in the courtroom to hear this admission by officer Slager obviously, through his attorneys, that they practice a system that would deprive the people of North Charleston their fundamental rights.”
Stewart believes that Slager’s defense team raised the issue of stop quotas as a way to implicate the alleged policies of the City of North Charleston in the murder of Walter Scott.
Justin Bamberg, member of the state House of Representatives and attorney for the Scott family, said he has been looking at the issues of quotas and statistical systems for some time and will introduce a bill in December to ban quotas and statistical systems for state law enforcement agencies.
“Unfortunately here in the city of North Charleston, for years, citizens in the community of North Charleston, citizens in the streets of North Charleston have gone to the mayor, have gone to City Council, have gone to the chief of police, have gone to those persons who have the power to make the decisions to stop things like this from happening and said, ‘Mr. mayor, council people, there are monsters in our community,’” Bamberg said Thursday. “And don’t be fooled, they look just like you and I. But they wear a badge and they are shielded by a uniform. And they don’t travel in dreams, but in police cars. And for years, these complaints fell on deaf ears.”
This isn’t the first time that allegations of mandatory quotas have surfaced for local law enforcement. In 2009, the City Paper reported on an email from the traffic enforcement commander for the Charleston Police Department that outlined goals for the city’s traffic officers in regard to citations. Sent after Chief Greg Mullen questioned the productivity of his officers, the commander said the goals weren’t quotas, but a way to motivate officers who were not aggressive enough in their enforcement.
In August, the Post and Courier reported that people are pulled over by police in North Charleston at a much higher rate compared to other large cities in the state, averaging a stop every eight minutes.
Stay cool. Support City Paper.
City Paper has been bringing the best news, food, arts, music and event coverage to the Holy City since 1997. Support our continued efforts to highlight the best of Charleston with a one-time donation or become a member of the City Paper Club.