[image-1]A heavy police presence is visible in downtown Charleston as the state trial of Michael Slager begins. Almost 190 potential jurors reported to the Charleston County courthouse Monday as attorneys began the slow process of selecting the final jury who will be tasked with deciding the fate of the former North Charleston officer charged with the shooting death of Walter Scott. If convicted, Slager faces a possible prison sentence of 30 years up to life in jail without the possibility of parole.

Attorneys for both sides addressed a few final pretrial motions Friday, mainly focusing on the sharing of evidence. The defense has called into question the level of cooperation between state and federal agencies, alleging that Slager faces a joint investigation from prosecutors that puts their client at an unfair disadvantage. Lead prosecutor Ninth Circuit Solicitor Scarlett Wilson rejected the notion, saying that both investigations are running parallel. In addition to state charges, Slager also faces a three-count federal indictment and the possibility of life in prison on charges of deprivation of rights under the color of law, use of a weapon during the commission of a violent crime, and obstruction of justice.

What remains to be decided is state Circuit Judge Clifton Newman’s ruling on the defense’s motion to dismiss Slager’s indictment on the grounds that the duel trials from both the state and federal courts fall into the realm of double jeopardy, as well as cruel and unusual punishment.

“Slager, an indigent former policeman, who relies on pro bono representation in the state case and appointed counsel in the federal one, is being crushed by the logistical, financial, and fiscally frivolous policy of simultaneous prosecution,” states the motion filed by the defense.

Slager’s attorneys later add, “The double-teaming of Slager by simultaneous prosecution is a chilling example of how far politically motivated politicians and prosecutors will go to seek headlines and feather their own nests at the expense of a public servant placed in an untenable position who had to make a split-second life or death decision that will be second-guessed by comfortable armchair quarterbacks in 20-20 hindsight for as long as he lives.”

During a press conference Monday, Charleston Mayor John Tecklenburg said that city staff and law enforcement agencies are on call to manage any possible problems that may arise during Slager’s trial and the trial of accused Emanuel AME Church shooter Dylann Roof. With both high-profile trials set to take place simultaneously in adjacent courthouses, Deputy Chief Jerome Taylor with the Charleston Police Department said city police are working collectively with other agencies.

Joining Taylor and Mayor Tecklenburg during Monday’s press conference were representatives from the National Action Network and NAACP, who called for peace while the trials are underway. Elder James Johnson with the local branch of the National Action Network asked for citizens of Berkeley, Dorchester, and Charleston counties to remain vigilant in the coming weeks and to alert the police regarding any reports of extremist groups planning to stir trouble in the community. The reoccurring theme of the meeting was a call for prayer and patience during the trials.

“At this time when hate is so prevalent in our country and racial lines are being divided, it is a privilege to stand and be a voice and a representative along with our colleagues to say that this is our city, our home,” said Tina Reddy of the National Action Network. “We will not allow any group to come here and tell us how to run it, or come and destroy what the people of South Carolina have built. Make no mistake, we are aware that the nation is watching and so are we. We have a judicial system that is in place, and we pray that wisdom and faith are bestowed upon those chosen to perform the task.”