The former police officer charged with murder in the shooting death of an unarmed black motorist last April in North Charleston, S.C., has been released on $500,000 bail.
Circuit Judge Clifton Newman denied bail for Michael Slager in September, saying his release would "constitute an unreasonable danger to the community," but on Monday, the judge granted a $500,000 bond. Slager, 33, was released later that day, according to The Associated Press, which adds that he will be under house arrest until his trial, set for Oct. 31.
Newman was compelled to reconsider bail for Slager after setting the trial date. The judge's decision stems from the fact that South Carolina prosecutor Scarlett Wilson is handling both Slager's case and that of Dylann Roof, the man accused of murdering nine people at a historically black church in Charleston last summer.
"At the heart of Circuit Judge Clifton Newman's decision was an order from the state Supreme Court that cleared the area's top prosecutor from going to trial on other cases before Emanuel AME Church shooting suspect Dylann Roof is tried this summer. The order is why, Newman said, he had to set Slager's trial for Oct. 31.
"Meanwhile, Slager's pretrial confinement could affect a sort of punishment on the former officer even while he is presumed innocent, the judge said. A defense attorney cited Slager's celiac disease that has worsened with a jail diet containing gluten.
"The prospect of months more behind bars prompted Newman to reconsider his decision denying bail in September, when he labeled Slager a danger to the community and a flight risk."
The AP reports that a group of about two dozen protesters gathered Tuesday outside the Charleston County jail to protest Slager's release.
The news service says the protesters yelled, "We want Slager back in jail" and "There is a murderer on the loose."