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New filing aims to change narrative on Walter Scott shooting with DNA evidence, Taser report

CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCIV) -- Defense attorneys for the North Charleston police officer charged with murder in the fatal shooting of Walter Scott say they have new evidence that should lead to the officer's release on bond.{}

A brief cellphone video from April 4 shows former officer Michael Slager shooting the 50-year-old Scott in the back during a traffic stop in North Charleston. Slager's attorney, Andy Savage, filed a bond request Tuesday that alleges there was significantly more to the altercation leading up to the shooting.

One of the biggest questions still looming in the case is the issue of how much time passed from the time Scott and Slager left the field of view of Slager's dash cam and when an eyewitness started recording the altercation behind a pawn shop on his cellphone.

The filing includes a report on the Taser used by Slager the day of the fatal shooting. Investigators said in April that Slager had deployed the device multiple times during the altercation with Scott. But the report showed the Taser was{}discharged six times in a single minute during the altercation.

The first Taser deployment came at 9:52 a.m. State Law Enforcement Division documents show Scott ran from Slager and the traffic stop nearly 20 minutes earlier at 9:36 a.m.

A document released by the Scott family's attorneys Thursday says the Taser was used twice.

The filing also includes a toxicology report on Scott. According to that report, Scott had traces of alcohol, marijuana, and cocaine in his system at the time of the shooting. Savage has also compiled a collection of character references on Slager's behalf and a psychological consultant who says Slager is not a further risk to society and can be freed.

Chris Stewart, the Scott family's attorney, said shortly after the filing was submitted that the toxicology information was detracting from the truth of the case -- that Slager opened fire on Scott as the 50-year-old black man ran away.{}

Stewart added that the Scott family was not surprised by the results of the toxicology report.

"It was a trace amount. We don't know if that would've been detected by a urine or blood test on living person. So finding a trace amount, we're not moved by that. Secondly, he wasn't pulled over for DUI. {}He wasn't pulled over for swerving or anything that has to do with 90 percent of whats in that filing today," Stewart said. "It's distractions because they don't want you thinking about what their client did -- shooting a man in the back five times and taking eight shots while he ran away. That's fine. They have to do something."

Slager has been in an isolated cell at the Charleston County Detention Center. He has a new bond hearing slated for Thursday in which Savage says evidence will be presented that shows Scott on top of Slager before the shooting.{}

Officials initially said Scott wrestled the Taser away from Slager during an altercation behind the pawn shop. DNA evidence submitted by Savage on Thursday shows the Taser had a mixture of DNA from two distinct people, but it primarily came from Slager.

Unfortunately, the second DNA sample was so small it was inconclusive to determine the source of the sample.

"That does not indicate Mr. Scott had control of the Taser. Touch DNA can be transferred as simply as the touch of the hand. If the Taser made contact w his body during confrontation that would also make his DNA present. So that's not alarming at all," said attorney Justin Bamberg.{}

The filing also states that there is blood evidence on Slager's uniform. Slager also had a bruised knee and injured finger, the filing adds.{}

The hope for Slager's legal team is that the new evidence will lead to a release from his cell and possibly a lowering of the charges against him before the trial.{}

Slager initially said he feared for his life during the altercation, but once the video surfaced, he was fired, arrested, and charged with murder.{}

"A live murder was video taped. We have the video and saw what happened. What else are they going to say to bring up things about his character which we know had nothing to do w this shooting, to bring up trace evidence on things that had nothing to do with a shooting?" Stewart asked. "It doesn't matter. And the unity people have shown about this won't be broken up by 150 pages of nonsense."{}

Since the shooting, state and federal lawmakers have made a concerted push to arm police officers with body cameras. The South Carolina legislature even passed a law that Gov. Nikki Haley signed requiring officers to wear body cameras while on patrol.{}

The Obama Administration has offered millions of dollars in grants for police and sheriff's departments across the country to purchase body cameras for officers.{}

Since news of the filing was made public, the Solicitor's office released a statement saying it would not comment on the case or release details of the evidence collected until the trial date.{}

During a press conference Wednesday morning outside the Charleston County Detention Center, Elder James Johnson with the National Action Network said the community is upset that Slager may be released on bond Thursday. In their opinion, Slager is a flight risk and the community will fear him if he's released.{}

Pastor Thomas Dixon with the Coalition called for due process in the case and for Slager to remain behind bars. In South Carolina, a magistrate cannot set bond in a murder case, so defendants have to schedule a bond hearing with a district court judge. Slager will go before a district court judge on Thursday.

But Johnson said if Slager is released on bond, the demonstrations would begin again. He did not specify what form of demonstrations would be held.

"Whatever Andy Savage is pulling out of his hat, we are not going to believe the man behind the curtain," the group said.

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