The South Carolina police officer who was caught on video gunning down 50-year-old Black father Walter Scott in 2015 is finally headed to trial – before a predominantly white jury.
Trial proceedings in the case against former officer Michael Slager got underway on Thursday, with both Scott’s son and mother taking the stand. The jury is made up of 11 white jurors and one Black juror, following a selection process that saw Slager’s defense attorneys block nine potential jurors. According to NPR, seven of the nine jurors who were blocked by the defense attorneys were minorities.
The defense also reportedly requested a change of venue prior to the trial beginnings, but that request was denied. The latest census report notes that the African-American population in Charleston County, where the trial is taking place, is about 28 percent.
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Slager was fired from the North Charleston police department after video footage showed him fire eight rounds at Scott’s back as he was attempting to flee following a routine traffic stop. Autopsy reports revealed Scott was struck a total of five times during the shooting.
If convicted, Slager faces up to life in prison. The city of North Charleston reportedly approved a civil suit settlement of $6.5 million to Scott’s family in 2015.