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Motion for public defender to represent Michael Slager in state retrial filed along with several motions in upcoming federal case

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Slager Re-trial (copy)

Former North Charleston police officer Michael Slager's re-trial is scheduled to begin May 15 in Charleston. File/Brad Nettles/Staff

While a motion asking for a public defender to represent Michael Slager in the retrial of the state's murder case was filed Friday afternoon, private attorney Andy Savage continued working on the former officer's behalf, filing a flurry of motions in the upcoming federal case.

Savage, who was Slager's attorney during the first state murder trial, could not be reached by email or phone for comment about his client's request for a different attorney. A copy of the filing couldn't be obtained on Friday.

Ninth Circuit Solicitor Scarlett Wilson said she was aware of the motion but that she didn't believe it impacted the prosecution's side of the case.

“This is really an issue between the defendant and the court,” Wilson said. “It doesn’t really involve us as long as it doesn’t involve a delay, and at this point I have no reason to believe that it does.”

The former North Charleston officer's month-long state trial for the April 2015 shooting death of Walter Scott ended with a mistrial in December after the jury moved on from considering the murder charge and deadlocked on the lesser charge of manslaughter.

Slager's state retrial is scheduled for Aug. 28.

Friday saw Savage and federal prosecutors file 11 motions connected to Slager's civil rights trial.

The documents mostly concern pre-trial haggling, with Savage filing opposition to several prior motions by prosecutors, and prosecutors filing their own oppositions to some of Savage's prior motions.

Prosecutors rebutted a number of previous defense motions by opposing a request to let the jury visit the area where Scott was shot, asking the judge to deny Savage's request to throw out the three-count federal indictment and responding to a defense motion on disclosing information about government witnesses.

Slager was charged May 10 with deprivation of rights under color of law, use of a weapon during the commission of a crime of violence, and obstruction of justice.

Federal prosecutors also opposed a request that bystander video of the shooting either be barred entirely from the federal trial or that a slow motion version not be shown.

"The video evidence in this case clearly shows the moment that the defendant used deadly force against Mr. Scott. ... Ultimately, the jury will be asked to determine whether the defendant willfully violated Mr. Scott’s constitutional rights by using unreasonable force under the circumstances," the prosecution's motion said.

Finally, prosecutors asked that a judge deny a defense request to suppress Slager's statement to State Law Enforcement Division agents on April 7, 2015.

Savage's motions concerned expert testimony on toxicology, Tasers, police psychology, DNA and forensic data analysis.

Savage also responded to a Department of Justice filing seeking to limit argument about other police shootings, officers who've died in the line of duty, the Dylann Roof case, the motive for bringing federal charges against Slager and media coverage of the shooting.

"Slager seeks to empower the jury to consider all relevant facts that formed the basis for his decision to use force that day," the motion said.

Other defense motions concerned character testimony, Slager's performance under stress and whether to allow evidence about allegedly poor working conditions at the North Charleston Police Department.

The federal trial is slated to begin May 15 in Charleston. Jury selection is scheduled for May 9 in Columbia.

Scott, 50, ran from a traffic stop on April 4, 2015, off Remount Road. Slager fired a Taser at him, and a fight ensued. A bystander’s video showed the two struggling on the ground, but reports differ about who had the upper hand. Slager’s attorneys said Scott beat the officer and grabbed his Taser.

As the Taser fell to the ground, Scott started running again. Slager pulled his pistol and fired eight bullets, five of which hit Scott. His lawyers have said Slager still saw Scott as a threat when he opened fire.

After the video surfaced publicly three days later, the officer was arrested on a murder charge.

Glenn Smith contributed to this report.

Reach Gregory Yee at 843-937-5908. Follow him on Twitter @GregoryYYee.

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