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Jury selection begins in trial of South Carolina cop who killed Walter Scott

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The murder trial of a former South Carolina policeman who shot an unarmed black motorist last year opens on Monday with jury selection, putting the national spotlight back on a case that dramatized the issue of racial bias in law enforcement.

Michael Slager, a white North Charleston police officer, was arrested and charged with murder in April 2015 when a bystander’s cellphone video emerged that appeared to show him firing eight times at the back of a black man who was fleeing from him.

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Slager, now 34, has pleaded not guilty and was released from jail on bond in early January.

In pretrial motions, Slager’s defense lawyers said the officer was on patrol in what they described as a dangerous neighborhood when he stopped Walter Scott, 50, for driving a car with a broken brake light.

When Scott got out of his car and fled, Slager said he chased the black man on foot and hit him with a stun gun at least twice.

Defense attorneys will say Slager felt threatened when Scott grabbed the stun gun after a struggle and pointed it at the officer.

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The video of Scott’s death helped trigger a public outcry that flared after the killings of unarmed black men in Missouri, New York and elsewhere.

Slager’s trial is likely to renew national scrutiny on the treatment of minority groups by law enforcement agencies across the United States.

“The whole world is watching these decisions as so many policemen having gotten away with killing a black man,” James Johnson, president of the South Carolina chapter of the National Action Network, said in a phone interview.

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About 180 prospective jurors were expected to report on Monday to the Charleston County Judicial Center in neighboring Charleston before a panel of 12 is selected, according to court documents. The pool initially included about 600 people.

Lawyers filed a flurry of motions and documents in recent weeks asking the judge to move the trial out of Charleston, saying publicity surrounding the case and possible protests outside the courthouse could prejudice a jury.

Judge Clifton Newman said last week that he would not sequester jurors because he did not want to keep them away from their homes on Nov. 8, Election Day, and during the holidays if the trial lasts that long, local media reported.

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Slager also faces federal charges in a U.S. District Court in Charleston. A trial date has not been set.

(Reporting by Harriet McLeod; Editing by Frank McGurty and Lisa Von Ahn)


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‘Anyone who tried to impact outcome of election should spend life in jail’: Lewandowski

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On Tuesday, Donald Trump's former campaign manager, Corey Lewandowski, testified before the House Judiciary Committee. Lewandowski's appearance before Congress was significant because Donald Trump reportedly told him to tell Jeff Sessions to limit the scope of Mueller's Russia probe.

Lewandowski was defiant in his opening statement, slamming the investigation as biased and knocking Hillary Clinton. He also declared that any entity that tried to meddle in a U.S. election should be in prison.

He said that he handled as many as a thousand emails. "And unlike Hillary Clinton, I don't think I ever deleted any of those," Lewandowski said. "Many of them were either responded to with one-word answers or floated to other staff for additional follow-up. But throughout it all, and to the best of my recollection, I don't recall ever having any conversations with foreign entities, let alone any who were operating to manipulate the outcome of an election."

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‘Ranting toddler’ Doug Collins gets clobbered online after he turns Lewandowski hearing into a ‘clown show’

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Rep. Doug Collins (R-GA), the ranking Republican member on the House Judiciary Committee, was brutally mocked on Tuesday after he unleashed a bizarre rant during the testimony of former Trump campaign manager Corey Lewandowski.

Collins began his testimony by blasting Chairman Jerry Nadler (D-NY) for hauling Lewandowski before the committee.

"Here we go again," Collins complained in an animated opening statement. "We had Mr. Mueller here, and long day, and it did not go well for what you have proclaimed for over one year and nine months, and what you claim is impeachment criteria. And now, the members have said that the president should be impeached, and so why are we investigating?"

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American neo-Nazis now see 9/11 mastermind Osama Bin Laden as a role model: report

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A new report from Vice claims that white supremacist organizations are increasingly viewing Osama Bin Laden, the late mastermind of the 9/11 terrorist attacks, as a role model whose actions can influence the future of their movement.

The report finds that neo-Nazi group Atomwaffen Division has recently started using Bin Laden's image in its propaganda while also promoting Islamist extremists' willingness to commit mass murder in the name of their religion as something that should be inspiring to American white nationalists.

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