CHARLESTON, S.C. - A fired white police officer’s defense lawyer told jurors at the start of his murder trial that he was provoked to shoot an unarmed black motorist when the fleeing man “physically and forcefully resisted” being subdued by a stun gun, “to the extent that they were both fighting on the ground.”
A DNA expert’s testimony Thursday cast some doubt on that argument, revealing that none of the North Charleston officer’s genetic material was found under the dead man’s fingernails, and that a DNA analysis of his Taser was inconclusive.
Samuel Stewart of the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division testified at the trial of Michael Slager, whose shooting of 50-year-old Walter Scott in April 2015 was captured on a bystander’s cellphone and shared worldwide.
DNA from the Taser “is a mixture of two individuals, and Walter Scott and Michael Slager can’t be excluded as contributors to the mix,” Stewart testified. He also said there was DNA on three other areas on the stun gun that did not belong to either Scott or Slager.
Stewart said blood stains on Slager’s uniform shirt and pants also were analyzed. He testified the blood contained Slager’s own DNA, and that while there was another person’s DNA, there was not enough of it to analyze its source.
The defense has questioned why only DNA, and not both DNA and fingerprints, were lifted from the stun gun.
State crime scene investigator Almon Brown testified there was nothing nefarious about officers just swabbing the weapon for DNA. Brown, who combed the scene for evidence following the shooting, testified that the evidence was collected according to protocol.
He also testified that, from the evidence he has seen, there is no doubt there was a struggle between the two men.
Lt. Tracy Thrower, a ballistics expert with SLED, also testified Thursday that the bullets that stuck Scott came from Slager’s service revolver.
Slager faces 30 years to life in prison if convicted of murder in Scott’s death.