Michael Slager, a former South Carolina cop who was taped shooting unarmed Black motorist Walter Scott Jr. in the back, has been freed from jail on a $500,000 bond.
Slager was arrested last year on murder charges and faces 30 years to life.
But NBC News reported he posted the $50,000 in personal funds needed to secure the bond and is now a free man. However, there are some restrictions to his newly-won freedom. He is on house arrest and can only leave to go to the doctor, attend court hearings, go to church or meet with his attorneys.
Slager, who was fired from the North Charleston Police Department, is scheduled to go to trial on Oct. 31, more than a year after he was arrested. According to NBC News, state Circuit Judge Clifton Newman said he was concerned about the length of time Slager would have been held without a trial.
It’s interesting to note that the judge showed leniency to a police officer charged with murder, but Kalief Browder, a New York teen, was jailed for allegedly stealing a backpack and remained in prison without trial for three years. No one showed him compassion. After his release, Browder committed suicide.
According to The State, Andy Savage, Slager’s attorney had requested a speedy trial and expected his client to go to court in the spring. However, Solicitor Scarlett Wilson is also trying white supremacist Dylann Roof, who shot nine Black churchgoers in Charleston, S.C. last summer. Wilson told The State a Supreme Court order prevents her from trying other cases before that one.
Joe Savitz, a Columbia, S.C. criminal defense attorney, said local prosecutors are putting all of the energy into the Roof case, which will draw international attention.
“The Roof case is going to be tried fairly soon,” Savitz said. “Everybody is kind of focusing on that.”
Before the judge’s ruling, Walter Scott Sr. said it was not fair that Slager got to go home and be with his family.
“When I go down to the graveyard, the only thing I see there is a pot sticking in the ground with flowers in it. If you let him out, he’s gonna go home and look at his wife and children,” Scott told CNN affiliate WCSC.
Scott family attorney Justin Bamberg urged the Charleston community to refrain from reprisals against Slager or his family.
“Doing anything to damage someone’s property or to hurt another innocent individual is not doing anything that will help the Scott family,” said Bamberg. “It’s not doing anything that is going to have an effect on the criminal trial process. The only thing that can do is land you where Officer Slager is right now, which is a defendant on a criminal charge.”