CHARLESTON, S.C. – The prosecution rested its case Wednesday in the murder trial of a white former South Carolina patrolman after showing jurors an animation of the shooting of a black motorist and a 3-D computerized scan of the scene.
Fired North Charleston patrolman Michael Slager is charged in the April 2015 shooting of 50-year-old Walter Scott, who ran unarmed from a traffic stop.
Cellphone video of the shooting recorded by a bystander shows Scott being shot five times in the back by Slager from yards away. It stunned the nation and was seen worldwide on the internet.
The animation of the shooting was compiled by government witness Bill Williams, who recreates crime scenes. The animation was created by melding cellphone and dashcam video, police radio chatter and drone footage of the scene. Williams testified that he spent 500 hours putting it together and was paid $15,000 by the state.
Prosecutors had said that Williams would be their last witness but then, before resting, called South Carolina Law Enforcement Division Agent James Tallon, who showed the jury of 11 whites and one black a 3-D scan of the crime scene.
The shooting animation opens with dashcam video from Slager's cruiser showing Slager pulling over Scott's 1990 Mercedes for a broken tail light. After Scott is seen running from the car, the animation switches to aerial drone footage of the path into a vacant lot down which Slager chased Scott and locations where evidence was found and Slager fired his Taser.
Those locations are noted on the screen and subtitles are shown when there are police calls. The animation closes with the bystander's cellphone video of Scott being shot.
The state called 32 witnesses over nine days in the trial, which is expected to continue into next week.
After the prosecution rested, defense attorney Andy Savage asked Circuit Judge Clifton Newman to dismiss the case. Savage argued that the prosecution had not shown there was malice on Slager's part as required by South Carolina law to convict on a murder charge.
But the judge ruled that the jury could infer malice from the fact that a deadly weapon was used and that Scott was shot in the back.
The first defense witness was David Hallimore, an audio expert who played enhanced audio from Slager's uniform microphone taken at the time of the incident. Slager can be heard shouting "Taser! Taser! Taser!" as he ran after Scott.
The defense contends that Slager fired his weapon after the two men wrestled on the ground and Scott got hold of Slager's stun gun.
The Slager trial continues against a backdrop of other highly publicized cases involving blacks kill by police officers.
On Wednesday a police officer from St. Anthony, Minnesota was charged with second-degree manslaughter in the killing of a black motorist during a traffic stop last July. The aftermath was streamed live on Facebook by the victim's girlfriend who was with him.
Meanwhile in Ohio prosecutors are reviewing whether to retry a former University of Cincinnati police officer charged in the July 2015 shooting death of a black motorist. A predominantly white jury deadlocked in that case earlier this month.