Former North Charleston police officer Michael Slager is seeking to have his conviction and 20-year prison sentence in the fatal shooting of Walter Scott overturned by a federal judge.
Slager fatally shot Scott from behind in an April 2015 confrontation that was captured on video by a bystander. The shooting came as police agencies across the country were being examined for excessive use of force. He pleaded guilty to a civil rights violation, and a Charleston federal judge sentenced him in to prison in 2017.
In court records filed Wednesday, Slager argues that his plea and sentencing counsel were "constitutionally ineffective" during his plea negotiations and in advising Slager on the terms under which he should plead guilty.
He contends his counsel failed to present critical evidence at these stages that could have helped his case.
In the court documents, Slager also argues that he was advised to sign a plea agreement that "conceded critical facts" that were harmful to his interests.
He additionally blames his appellate counsel for not raising "meritorious issues" during his appeal and petition to a higher court, which were denied.
"I consider the outcome of Michael’s case the most unjust result of any case that I have ever handled, and if there is anything I did or failed to do in representing Michael that contributed to that unjust result, I am more than happy to accept responsibility in hopes that he will obtain the relief he rightfully deserves," said Andy Savage, Slager's former attorney.
Savage said he was aware the filing was coming, but had not read the motion and was not aware of any mistakes Slager alleges he made as his counsel.
But in interviews for an April article about the slaying, Savage told The Post and Courier he felt Slager never received fair treatment, blaming himself to a degree.
“It was incompetent counsel,” Savage said. “I will never get over the mistake I made in recommending that Michael plead guilty in federal court. If I’d ever had an indication that (sentence) was possible, I’d never have recommended that he plead guilty. I’ll never, ’til the day I die, get over that.”
The North Charleston Police Department declined to comment on the filing.
Slager is currently being held in a federal prison in Colorado.