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CHARLESTON, S.C. – Former North Charleston patrolman Michael Slager is taking the stand to tell his version of what happened when he fatally shot a black motorist fleeing a traffic stop last year.
Slager, who faces 30 years to life if convicted of murder in the April 2015 death of 50-year-old Walter Scott, is expected to testify in his own defense Tuesday in a Charleston courtroom.
Scott, who was black, was shot five times in the back while running from the white officer. The shooting was captured by a bystander on cellphone video.
Slager was fired from the North Charleston Police Department and charged with murder when the video became public.
Scott's family has said Scott may have run from the scene because he was behind on child support and afraid of going back to jail.
Slager, who has been free on bail since January and who has given few media interviews since the incident, would be the 18th defense witness in a trial that has entered its fifth week. A jury of eleven whites and one black is hearing the case.
The defense contends that the short video widely seen in the media and on the internet doesn't tell the whole story. The defense is laying out a case that the officer told Scott to stop and repeatedly warned that he was going to use his stun gun before Scott wrestled with the officer and got control of Slager's Taser.
One expert in crime scene re-creation testified for the defense last week that it appears from the video that Scott threw a Taser as he confronted the officer seconds before the shooting. That segment of the video is blurry and shaky.
The jury has seen 3-D computer re-creations of the scene presented by witnesses for both the defense and the prosecution. Judge Clinton Newman is also weighing a defense request to allow the jurors to visit the scene of the shooting.
The case is expected to go to the jury by week's end.