Federal Trial for Former SC Police Officer Michael Slager Continued Until 2017

Trial stems from deadly traffic stop in North Charleston in April 2015.

ByABC News
August 30, 2016, 2:56 PM

— -- The federal trial for Michael Slager, a white former police officer who fatally shot an unarmed black man in South Carolina, has been continued until next year.

Slager is accused of murder in the fatal shooting of Walter Scott during a traffic stop in North Charleston in April 2015. Dashcam video captured Slager, who was a North Charleston Police Department officer, standing at Scott's car.

The video also captured Scott’s running away. Witness video appeared to show the moment Slager, now 34, fatally shot Scott, 50, as he ran away.

Today's federal court hearing -- attended by Scott's parents, brother and other family members -- stemmed from civil rights charges against Slager: a federal civil rights offense, using a firearm during the commission of the civil rights offense and obstruction of justice.

Slager appeared in court today without any of his family present, as the brief hearing addressed defense evidence to which federal prosecutors want access. The defense agreed to provide a searchable hard drive of the evidence requested, which includes rough notes, photographs and documents.

Defense lawyers, meanwhile, said the government has provided little discovery for the federal trial and that the government is relying on discovery from the state case.

The judge then moved the federal trial to sometime between January and March 2017, after the state trial on Slager’s murder charge that is set for this October.

In moving the federal case to next year, Judge David Norton today said of Slager's attorney, Andy Savage, "Andy Savage is a fine lawyer, but he can't be in two places at one time," referring to Savage’s representing Slager in both the federal and state trials.

Savage was not in court today; Donald McCune, another attorney from Savage's law firm, filled in for him. Norton did not mention why Savage was absent.

The federal court indictment alleges Slager "used excessive force when he shot and killed Walter Scott without legal justification," the Department of Justice announced this May.

"Slager was also charged with obstruction of justice for making false statements to South Carolina Law Enforcement Division (SLED) investigators with the intent to impede the investigation into the shooting," the Department of Justice said. "The indictment alleges that Slager intentionally misled SLED investigators by claiming that Scott was coming toward him with a Taser at the time that Slager fired his weapon, when in truth, Scott was running away."

Slager, who is free on bond, pleaded not guilty in May to the federal counts, according to The Associated Press.

On the state murder charge, for which he also pled not guilty, Slager will appear in state court at a trial set to start on Oct. 31.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.