CHARLESTON, S.C., Nov. 28 (UPI) -- After his former boss and coworkers spent Monday answering questions about use of force with suspects, a police officer on trial for shooting an unarmed suspect in the back is expected to take the stand Tuesday and speak out in his own defense.
Members of the North Charleston Police Department on Monday talked about training for diffusing situations, how to deal with difficult suspects and proper responses to threats to their safety as the fifth week of former officer Michael Slager's trial for shooting Walter Scott last year got under way.
Slager, who is on trial for shooting Scott in the back after a physical altercation, during which Scott grabbed Slager's taser, which the former officer said is why he shot him, is expected to be the first witness called on Tuesday morning and may be the last one called in the trial.
"We are trained... to stop the threat," officer Jason Dandridge testified Monday, saying "and if certain criteria is met, then shooting somebody in the back while they're running away at 18, 20 or 30 feet, even, is not unjustified."
Dandridge is one of several officers to testify on day 14 of testimony in the trial, establishing the six-point process for determining the appropriate type and how much force to use in any given situation. Many offered hypothetical situations about moving from a baton or mace to taser or gun, pointing out that mace has to be shot in someone's face and a baton requires a certain amount of movement to be useful.
Prosecutors attempted to discredit the officers' attempts to suggest situations where it would be appropriate to shoot a suspect in the back.
In Slager's case, Scott ran away from his patrol car, the two got into a tussle, Scott grabbed Slager's taser and Slager shot him as he was moving away from him -- for the prosecution, the problem seems clear, but for many officers on the stand the ideal way to handle the situation is far from obvious.
Slager shot Scott 8 times, and experts in the trial estimate Scott was 18 feet or farther away when Slager fired the first time before hitting him a total of five times.