05-27-2017  9:49 pm      •     
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NEWS BRIEFS

Portland Art Museum Hosts Upstanders Festival May 27

Event includes spoken word, workshops and poster making in support of social justice ...

North Portland Library Announces June Computer Classes

Upcoming courses include Introduction to Spreadsheets, What is the Cloud? and Learn Programming with Games ...

Merkley to Hold Town Hall in Clackamas County

Sen. Jeff Merkley to hold town hall in Clackamas County, May 30 ...

NAACP Monthly Meeting Notice, May 27, Portland

NAACP Portland invites the community to its monthly general membership meeting ...

Photos: Fundraiser for Sunshine Division's Assistance Programs

Under the Stars fundraiser took place on May 18 at the Melody Grand Ballroom ...

U.S. & WORLD NEWS

OPINION

Ensuring the Promise of the Every Student Succeeds Act

The preservation of Thurgood Marshall's legacy is dependent upon our dedication to our children ...

CFPB Sues Ocwen Financial over Unfair Mortgage Practices

What many homeowners soon discover is that faithfully paying a monthly mortgage is in some cases, just not enough ...

B-CU Grads Protest Betsy “DeVoid” in Epic Fashion

Julianne Malveaux says that Betsy “DeVoid,” is no Mary McLeod Bethune ...

NAACP on Supreme Court's Decline to Review NC Voter ID Law

NAACP President and CEO Cornell William Brooks made the following remarks ...

AFRICAN AMERICANS IN THE NEWS

ENTERTAINMENT

CHARLESTON, S.C. — As federal charges were filed against a white former South Carolina police officer who already faced a state murder charge in the shooting death of unarmed black motorist Walter Scott, Scott's lawyer and family praised the federal prosecutors for pressing the case.

"I think the Justice Department is tired of sitting on the sidelines and they think this is one they can definitely win and send a message to police departments around the country," attorney Chris Stewart told The Associated Press.

A federal indictment unsealed Wednesday charges Michael Slager, 34, with depriving Scott of his civil rights.

During a hearing Wednesday, federal Magistrate Judge Bristow Marchant agreed that Slager could remain free on the bond he has already posted in state court.

The federal indictment unsealed a few hours earlier also charges Slager with obstruction of justice and unlawful use of a weapon during the commission of a crime in the death of 50-year-old Scott.

Slager, who wore a dark suit and was handcuffed, entered a not-guilty plea during the brief hearing. Although he doesn't have to put up any additional bond on the federal charges, Slager must surrender his passport and have GPS monitoring.

A bystander's cellphone video captured images of Slager, then a North Charleston police officer, firing eight times as Scott ran from a traffic stop in April 2015. The case inflamed a national debate about how blacks are treated by white police officers.

The federal indictment charges that Slager, while acting as a law officer, deprived Scott of his civil rights. A second count says he used a weapon, a Glock Model 21 .45-caliber pistol, while doing so.

The third count, charging obstruction of justice, alleges that Slager intentionally misled agents of the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division about what happened during the encounter with Scott.

"Specifically, defendant Michael Slager knowingly misled SLED investigators by falsely stating that he fired his weapon at Scott while Scott was coming forward at him with a Taser," the indictment reads. "In truth and in fact, as defendant Michael Slager then well knew, he repeatedly fired his weapon at Scott when Scott was running away from him."

Conviction on all the charges could mean a sentence for Slager of life plus 30 years and a $750,000 fine. The charge of depriving Scott of his civil rights can carry the death penalty, because Scott lost his life, but Assistant U.S. Attorney Eric Klumb said the government is seeking a maximum of life because there are no aggravating circumstances in the case.

Stewart, who represents the Scott family, called it amazing that after all the cases over the past 20 years the federal government has decided to indict an officer.

Later, he told reporters outside the courthouse that he was proud of the Justice Department's decision.

"This is a message -- not to the good officers who protect us every day, but to the ones who abuse people in this country," he said.

Scott's mother Judy Scott said she thanks God for justice.

"I'm happy for that, but I'm sad because my son is gone. I'll never see him again. But I pray that other mothers don't have to go through what I've been going through," she said.

Slager, who was fired from the police force after the incident, was held in solitary confinement until January, when he was released on half a million dollars bail and put under house arrest. He is at an undisclosed location, allowed to leave only for work, church and medical or legal appointments.

Slager's state trial is set to begin this fall, and he faces a possible life sentence without parole.

Prosecutors have asked for the trial to be moved up to August or back to May 2017 to give Solicitor Scarlett Wilson time to prepare for another trial, that of Dylann Roof who's charged with shooting nine people to death at a black church in Charleston last summer.

Roof's trial is now set for January, and the state Supreme Court has issued an order protecting Wilson from trying other cases before that one.

Last fall, North Charleston approved a $6.5 million civil settlement with Scott's family.

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