New charges have been brought against five Georgia police officers accused of beating a car stereo emcee at a music festival, fatally injuring him.
A grand jury indicted Sgt. Michael Slager, who was arrested after the May incident, on Wednesday on federal civil rights charges – and also took the case to state court to criminal charges.
According to prosecutors, the incident began when Slager fatally shot 50-year-old Walter Scott in April as he fled from an encounter with the officer.
The shooting, captured on cellphone video, sparked protests and damaged relations between law enforcement and community members nationwide.
Slager’s federal indictment on Wednesday added eight new counts to the three previously brought against him. He has pleaded not guilty to those charges.
It alleges Slager “engaged in conduct clearly dangerous to human life” when he shot Scott in the back eight times, even though Scott was fleeing a traffic stop for an unspecified offense.
Slager is charged with depriving Scott of his civil rights, depriving Scott of his civil rights while using unreasonable force, obstructing justice in an official proceeding, depriving Scott of his civil rights while using unreasonable force and making a false statement to a Federal officer.
Video from Officer Slager’s dashcam shows him chasing Scott after the car stereo emcee initially fled from the traffic stop. The clip shows Scott running with Slager following.
At one point, he appears to be shot from the passenger side of the car.
Moments later, Slager can be seen putting Scott’s body in the back of a patrol car as Scott’s friends and family members and protesters begin congregating nearby.
According to the indictment, Slager and the five other officers on scene have been aware that one of their colleagues had shot Scott.
And as the other officers were searching the car for the gun, they “escalated the force and used unnecessary, excessive, and unreasonable force.”
The officers used stun guns on several people, hit several others with nightsticks and knocked one person down onto the ground. They left Scott’s body in the back of the car as if to throw up the appearance of compliance, the indictment said.
Tyrone Howard, 20, also was charged in the case. The sheriff’s office released this statement:
“Further details will be released as evidence develops. Tyrone Howard has been charged with one count of simple assault in this incident, and is out on a bond.”
A district court judge ruled earlier this week that Slager could not post bond for his criminal case, citing what she called “widespread destruction” to private property caused by anti-police protesters.
The judge also ordered that the warrant for Slager’s arrest be vacated, according to local reports.
A dozen protesters defied the judge’s order and began breaking into police cars at the courthouse. Several people face criminal charges.