Correction: Court documents show that more than $6,600 was paid for various expenses related to witness Feidin Santana before and after the trial, not $19,000 as previously reported. The documents incorrectly listed some as "per diem," or per day, payments for certain time periods, which inflated the total.
South Carolina paid out more than $6,600 for its star witness in Walter Scott's death to testify about filming the shooting, court records showed.
But attorneys asked Wednesday for a better explanation of those payments.
Defense lawyers for Michael Slager, the former North Charleston policeman who shot Scott, recently received a listing of the state's expenses for Feidin Santana — a typical inquiry that can help establish a witness' motivation for taking the stand.
The documentation, though, raised further interest among the attorneys, they said.
Santana recorded the white officer shooting Scott, a black man, as Scott ran away on April 4, 2015. Slager said Scott had taken his Taser during a fight and turned it against him. He was arrested on a murder charge shortly after Santana's video emerged publicly.
The witness said during Slager's trial last year that prosecutors had offered to pay for his flight here from his native Dominican Republic. But Santana often struggles to trust authorities, so he paid for his own plane ticket, he told 9th Circuit Solicitor Scarlett Wilson during questioning in the courtroom.
Such testimony can be helpful for jurors considering whether a witness was swayed by compensation.
But a filing Wednesday by Slager's lead attorney, Andy Savage, showed a payment to Santana for a flight in September, more than a month before the trial.
"The document ... appears on its face to contradict the sworn testimony," Savage wrote. "Without further explanation, it appears that, at a minimum, an error was made in the information provided by the solicitor or in the sworn testimony of Santana."
The defense team asked prosecutors to reveal receipts and other records that might shed light on the issue.
Wilson did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
The filing also included other payments and expenses for Santana's stay during the trial in downtown Charleston.
He was given an expense allotment totaling more than $1,900 over a nearly three-month stretch before and after the proceeding, the records showed.
The state also shelled out $4,100 for a hotel and $96 for a taxi. Those expenses, along with $191 for the flight in question, were paid to a provider, the records showed.
Santana is expected to again serve as a key witness when Slager goes on trial in a federal civil rights case in May. Depending on that outcome, he could return to state court for another murder trial in August after the first resulted in a hung jury.
Slager's defense team on Wednesday also filed a bevy of motions in the federal case, hoping to shape certain rules for that trial. Among them was a proposal to halt prosecutors from calling Scott a victim because, the defense argued, the term would violate Slager's presumption of innocence.
The attorneys also want to limit authorities from alleging that Slager tried to "plant" his Taser by dropping it near Scott's body after the shooting, only to pick it up later.
"The proper measurement of whether force was required in this lawful arrest is whether the actions of the officer at the time of the shooting were objectively reasonable," the filing stated. "Actions taking place after the shooting are irrelevant."