South Carolina police officer Michael Slager will not face the death penalty for shooting and killing Walter Scott, the local country prosecutor, Scarlett Wilson, said on Monday. “Based on the facts revealed thus far, it does not appear South Carolina’s death penalty provision applies in this case because there are no statutory ‘aggravating circumstances’ present,” Wilson said in a statement Monday. Slager was charged with murder for firing eight shots at Scott as he was running away, and is currently in jail.
Here’s more from the Charleston Post and Courier on why prosecutors will not be seeking the death penalty:
Ninth Circuit Solicitor Scarlett Wilson said she carefully reviewed the state’s death penalty statute, which lists 22 aggravating circumstances that can trigger the state to seek lethal punishment. Those include murders committed during kidnapping, robbery, drug trafficking and a host of other circumstances. None applied in this case, she said. Under South Carolina law, this case is not death penalty-eligible,” said Wilson, whose office will be in charge of prosecuting Slager. “There are aggravating circumstances which can take a murder case from being a maximum of life to death being the maximum sentence. None of those factors are present in this case.”
Two audio recordings from the immediate aftermath of the shooting also surfaced on Monday. Here are the transcripts of the portions with Slager’s voice via CNN:
In the first recording, an unidentified officer talks to Slager about what might happen. “Once they get here, it’ll be real quick. They’re gonna tell you, you’re gonna be off for a couple days and we’ll come back and interview you then. They’re not gonna ask you any type of questions right now. They’re gonna take your weapon,” the officer says. “It’d probably be a good idea to jot down your thoughts about whatever happened … once the adrenaline stops pumping.” Slager responds: “It’s pumping,” and then laughs.
The second audio, taken from dash cam video from inside a patrol car, captures a phone call between Slager and someone CNN believes is his wife. He tells her: “Hey. Hey, everything’s OK. OK? I just shot somebody.” “He grabbed my Taser, yeah. Yeah,” says Slager. “He was running from me. … I’m fine.”