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May 12, 2016

Former S.C. cop, a Medford native, faces possibility of life in prison

Michael Slager is under federal indictment on three charges related to the fatal shooting of Walter Scott

South Jersey native Michael Slager, a former North Charleston, South Carolina, police officer, is under federal indictment on three charges.

If convicted, he could spend his life in prison.

Slager, a graduate of Lenape High School in Medford, Burlington County, is the police officer seen in a viral video made April 4, 2015, allegedly shooting an unarmed man, Walter Scott, in the back and killing him.

Slager, a former member of the Coast Guard, is white; Scott was black. He has claimed he felt threatened by Scott, whom he also claimed had tried to grab his stun gun.

But the video seems to tell a different story of the incident.

Slager’s been fired by North Charleston, and the city reached a $6.5 million settlement with Scott’s family.

The indictment includes charges for a federal civil rights offense, using a firearm during the commission of a civil rights offense and obstruction of justice.

According to Wednesday’s indictment, which was released by the U.S. Attorney’s Office in South Carolina:

“Slager, while acting as an NCPD Officer, used excessive force when he shot and killed Walter Scott without legal justification. 

“Slager was also charged with obstruction of justice for making false statements to South Carolina Law Enforcement Division (SLED) investigators with the intent to impede the investigation into the shooting. 

“The indictment alleges that Slager intentionally misled SLED investigators by claiming that Scott was coming toward him with a taser at the time that Slager fired his weapon, when in truth, Scott was running away.”   

If convicted on all counts, Slager could face life in prison, according to the U.S. Attorney for Civil Rights, Vanita Gupta.