CHARLESTON, S.C. – Two things stand out about this week's indictment of a white former South Carolina police officer on federal civil rights charges in the death of unarmed black motorist Walter Scott: Such charges from the feds against an officer are relatively rare, and they send a message.
Thirty-four-year-old Michael Slager already faces state murder charges in Scott's death.
A bystander's cellphone video captured images of Slager, then a North Charleston police officer, firing eight times as 50-year-old Scott ran from an April 2015 traffic stop. The case inflamed a national debate about how blacks are treated by white police officers.
Some, including attorneys for Scott's family, see new indictment as a message from federal prosecutors that they've got their eye on law officers and are fed up with flagrant violence.