Michael Slager will not be found guilty in the murder of Walter Scott.
There. I said it.
I had to get it off my chest. Not that it makes me feel any better. But I just had to say it now, so that when the verdict is read I won’t feel as shitty as I’ll inevitably feel.
You can argue with me all you like, but it’s not going to change my mind and it’s certainly not going to change what’s going to happen. The groundwork is already being laid by Slager’s attorney, the one and only Andy Savage.
Savage is a good lawyer, a great one even. And he’s come up with a strategy that completely spins Scott’s murder into something it isn’t: an act of heroism.
According to this new version of events, Scott will be cast as a coke-fueled madman who was seemingly impervious to the repeated jolts from Officer Slager’s Taser, and as such, the unarmed man was a threat to the community at large. Don’t take my word for it. It’s all right there in the Post and Courier’s most recent articles on the case. Andrew Knapp reports:
Attorneys for former North Charleston officer Michael Slager filed court documents Tuesday alleging that Walter Scott, who had cocaine and alcohol in his blood, wrestled away the patrolman’s Taser and pointed it at him.
Facing his own Taser, Slager said he drew his pistol and fired, according to police reports included in the filing …
In a vacant lot, the officer first fired the stun gun at Scott’s back, but its prongs didn’t make clean contact, he later told North Charleston police Lt. Daniel Bowman. Slager put another cartridge into his Taser, allowing him to fire it again.
Scott fell, Slager later told police supervisors, according to the reports. With Scott on his stomach, Slager told him to put his hands behind his back, but he didn’t listen, the reports stated. Slager used his Taser to directly stun Scott twice — one in the side, once in the back.
In all, Slager pulled the Taser’s trigger six times during a 67-second span that morning, data from the device indicated.
Now, it doesn’t matter that the levels of cocaine in Scott’s body were well below impairment, the very fact that some cocaine was in his body is all the proof that Savage will need to paint the victim as a rampaging, drug-nuts beast … and the jurors will eat up every single word of it.
But what of the video, you ask? Doesn’t it show Slager clearly shooting an unarmed Scott in the back. Once again, Savage will employ the dark arts to cast a spell over the jury. The P&C’s Andrew Knapp reports:
Savage said the video is consistent with his client’s account, but attorneys for Scott’s family argued that the footage never showed Scott posing a threat to Slager. It showed only that Scott was trying to get away when Slager opened fire, shooting him five times from behind, the attorneys contended.
But Savage told NBC News that Slager saw Scott pivot slightly. Fearing Scott could draw a weapon, Savage said, Slager fired.
“He sees irrational behavior of a suspect, at that time,” Savage said in the NBC News interview. “He sees a guy who’s committed four felonies in the last minute and a half — violently resisting arrest, assaulting a police officer, robbing the police officer of his weapon … and using that Taser in attempt to harm him. Four felonies in the last 30-45 seconds.”
And what’s the source of this irrational behavior? Why, the drugs, of course. And not just cocaine but alcohol too. In this new light, jurors will have no problem seeing the fleeing Scott not as an unarmed man who was shot in the back, but as a mindless brute who was bound to wreck havoc elsewhere, and so, like a rabid dog, he had to be put down.
As if this shameful exercise in dragging Scott’s name through the mud wasn’t enough, Savage is attempting to paint Slager as an innocent victim of post-Freddie Gray, post-Ferguson backlash. Knapp adds:
“It wasn’t just a cold-blooded shooting of a guy in the back, and they knew that,” Savage said Tuesday. “You have to view the Slager incident as part of a continuum of public questioning of police conduct, and he got swept up in that. I’m sure political leaders and law enforcement people were concerned about civil disobedience and perhaps activity beyond exercising of First Amendment rights.”
So there you have it, folks. That’s the argument for the defense. It might be ugly, it might be shameful, but it will be effective. Michael Slager will be a free man.