The lawyer who first represented Michael Slager, the North Charleston police officer charged with murdering Walter Scott on Saturday, said he dropped his client soon after a video emerged showing Slager shooting Scott eight times as he ran away.
Charleston attorney David Aylor told The Daily Beast that he took on Slager as a client on Saturday, the day of the shooting, and removed himself as counsel on Tuesday afternoon. Aylor said he wouldn't go into detail about his brief representation of Slager thanks to attorney-client privilege but he spoke generally about the situation. The following has been lightly edited for clarity.
You were quoted as Officer Slager's attorney in the aftermath of this high-profile shooting but before the video came out. Now you're not his attorney anymore. What happened?
I can't specifically state what is the reason why or what isn't the reason why I'm no longer his lawyer. All I can say is that the same day of the discovery of the video that was disclosed publicly, I withdrew as counsel immediately. Whatever factors people want to take from that and conclusions they want to make, they have the right to do that. But I can't confirm from an attorney-client standpoint what the reason is.
When you were representing Slager, you said, “I believe once the community hears all the facts of this shooting, they’ll have a better understanding of the circumstances surrounding this investigation.”
That was my belief at the time, that's why I made that statement.
Now that the video is out, it seems the community has a much better understanding about what actually happened, and not necessarily in the officer's favor. What's your take on that new information?
I think that there's been a release of information that was not public information at the time, or not discovered at the time at least to any knowledge of mine or anyone else publicly— at least the video. I can't comment on the specifics of what I think the video says. I'm not going to analyze the video, but again ... the video came out and within the hours of the video coming out, I withdrew my representation of the client.
How did you come across the video?
I can't say where I saw it first. I first became aware of it via the media. In fact, a reporter sent it to me via e-mail.
These days, more and more people are carrying video recording devices on their phones and it's hard to not know if everything we do isn't being captured somehow. How do you, as an attorney, know to trust what you're saying about a client is true—and what do you do if you find out information that seems to refute it after you've made a statement?
I'm not going to speak specifically to this case, but generally speaking as an attorney, when you're looking at a case you have to look at a number of different factors. One part is when you have a high-profile case, on behalf of your client and at the time due to their encouragement or what they're directing you to do, you make public statements based on the information you have. It's common in any type of case when you're a defense attorney that any kind of information that you're provided is limited throughout as far as what information you're given from your client compared to when you actually get to discovery or the evidence, moving all the way to the point of more additional evidence or witnesses coming out as the case progresses. So I think with any case it's always a changing situation, or it can be.
Do you know whether Officer Slager knew someone was taping the incident?
I can't say what my client did and didn't tell me, but I can tell you that I was not aware of the video, and I'm still not aware of who filmed the video, where the video came from, how the video got disclosed and who it was disclosed to first. As far as whether it was disclosed to authorities first or whether it went straight to the media, I don't even know the answer to that question now.
Any other thoughts on this situation as his former attorney?
Not so much as his former attorney, just as someone in the community, I feel that it's a tragic situation that occurred. I feel for all of those who are affected by the incident and of course the loss of life. At no point, not specific to this case, just generally speaking, is anybody above the law. And I think that's why we have process and court systems and everybody deserves their day in court, but I won't be participating in anything related to this case moving forward in that regard.