Ninth Circuit Solicitor Scarlett Wilson shoots back against attorney for Michael Slager in new court filing

July 22, 2017 GMT

Ninth Circuit Solicitor Scarlett Wilson on Friday, filed a motion shooting back against claims made by the defense attorney for former North Charleston police officer Michael Slager.

The motion, which was filed at 1:40 p.m., responds to a similar motion that was filed in June by Andy Savage. It called for Circuit Judge Clifton Newman to unseal testimony made by Wilson and Deputy Solicitor Bruce DuRant during a pre-trial hearing on Oct. 21, 2016 about why a grand jury was given a murder indictment rather than one for manslaughter in the Slager shooting.

Slager, who is white, pleaded guilty in May to violating Walter Scott’s civil rights when he shot the 50-year-old black man as he fled. Video of the April 2015 shooting, that followed a traffic stop for a minor violation, spread worldwide and brought intense scrutiny to North Charleston amid a broader inspection of police uses of force against black people.

Slager is still awaiting sentencing.

In her filing, Wilson said that because of disagreements with the defense side, she was submitting her own motion to unseal the testimony transcripts.

It is commonly understood that prosecutors pursue the most serious offenses that they can readily prove, Wilson’s filing said. Early in the case, the State Law Enforcement Division chose to charge Slager with murder. After reviewing the evidence, Wilson chose to bring a murder indictment to the grand jury.

She responded in Friday’s filing to claims made by Savage, saying that her and DuRant’s testimony did not cover why a grand jury was presented the murder indictment.

“Likewise, (Savage’s) claims to the media regarding the Solicitor’s testimony and charging decisions are wildly misleading,” the filing said. “The rationale for the State’s pursuit of a murder charge ... is not a secret and is easily understood.”

The Post and Courier has reached out to Savage, who did not respond to multiple phone calls Friday afternoon and a request sent via email.

Wilson, in the filing, also added that she always knew that convicting Slager of murder would be difficult.

“For that reason, (Wilson) opined to SLED that voluntary manslaughter might be a better fit in this situation, but knew that regardless, it likely would become an option for the jury as a lesser offense.”

Wilson has never stated that murder wasn’t the proper charge or that the murder indictment wasn’t her choice, the filing said.

“It is now up to (U.S. District Judge) David Norton to determine what label to give the killing of Walter Scott and what sentence to impose on Defendant Michael Slager,” the filing said.