[JURIST] A former police officer in North Charleston, South Carolina, was indicted by a grand jury on Monday on murder charges brought after the April incident in which the officer shot an unarmed black man, Walter Scott, who was running away from him. The case gained prominence after a video [Post and Courier report] was released in which the graphic images of the shooting were plainly visible, causing the officer to be discharged from his position shortly after the incident. Former officer Michael Slager will be tried in North Charleston for murder, which under South Carolina law is defined as “unlawful killing with malice aforethought” and necessitates a premeditation element. Slager faces 30 years to life without parole if convicted.
The video of the encounter between Slager and Scott reignited the debate around the treatment of black men at the hands of white police officers that intensified with the death of Michael Brown [USA Today report] in Ferguson, Missouri. Police action in Ferguson was characterized by Amnesty International [advocacy website] as human rights abuses [JURIST report] after military grade tactics were taken against peaceful protesters. Darren Wilson, the officer accused of Michael Brown’s death, was not indicted by a Missouri grand jury, nor did he have charges brought against him by the Department of Justice (DOJ) [JURIST reports].