Judge extends time for testing ‘unexpected discovery’ on Michael Slager’s Taser

Circuit Judge Clifton Newman, seen during a September hearing, agreed recently to extend the time needed for Michael Slager’s defense experts to review possible evidence on a Taser.

A judge has agreed to allow more time for Michael Slager’s hired investigator to examine possible evidence on the former North Charleston police officer’s Taser.

Attorneys for Slager, who is charged with murder in Walter Scott’s shooting death, had asked for the extension after the expert at W.D. Forensics in Seattle found fibers during a private examination.

The stun gun is a key piece of evidence in Slager’s upcoming trial, which is set for late October. His defense team has said that Scott wrested control of the device after running from an April 4 traffic stop. Scott, 50, eventually separated himself from Slager and started running, but the officer fired eight times, hitting him five times from behind.

Slager, 34, was arrested after a bystander’s video of the shooting surfaced.

Andy Savage, his lead attorney, has taken issue with how forensics experts at the State Law Enforcement Division examined the Taser. At the lawyer’s request, Circuit Judge Clifton Newman ordered SLED to send the weapon to the Seattle lab for outside testing. The judge asked for the device’s return to South Carolina by Feb. 12.

But Savage said the expert will need 30 to 45 more days with the Taser, according to an order signed by Newman on Feb. 8 but made public Tuesday. A SLED agent was scheduled last week to travel to Washington to oversee the initial collection and testing of the fibers, the document added.

The filing called the finding an “unexpected discovery,” but its value in Slager’s defense remains uncertain.

Also on Tuesday, the judge ordered SLED to send swabs of evidence already collected from the Taser to the private lab. The swabs contain DNA from both Slager and Scott, but the defense team has said that SLED’s failure to determine where exactly on the device the DNA came from was a misstep.

Reach Andrew Knapp at 843-937-5414 or twitter.com/offlede.