David Aylor’s Deep Hole Just Got Deeper
Apr. 16, 2015 (Mimesis Law) — Following his agreement to be interviewed about his very public announcement that he was no longer Michael Slager’s lawyer, David Aylor was taken to task for his “artful” attempt to claim he wasn’t condemning his client while throwing him under the bus. A few lawyers didn’t grasp why this wasn’t cool, but most found the conduct outrageous.
Bad enough? Sure, but as subsequent reports demonstrate, it was only the beginning.
SLED agents arrived at the scene at 10:29 a.m. April 4, about 51 minutes after Patrolman 1st Class Michael Slager fatally shot Scott in the back as Scott ran away. They later asked Slager to answer some questions.
“When our investigators spoke with … Slager at the scene, he said he was represented by an attorney,” SLED spokesman Thom Berry said Tuesday. “We stopped questioning him and contacted his attorney.”
“SLED” stands for State Law Enforcement Division, and to their credit, they were on the scene quickly and, when Slager invoked his right to counsel, honored that right. Rather than try to circumvent Slager’s invocation, they went to his lawyer, David Aylor, who had been retained about an hour after the shooting, apparently by the Southern State Police Benevolent Association.
After Slager deflected their request, the agents got in touch with his lawyer, David Aylor, who said he would make the officer available for an interview three days later, on April 7, Berry said.
The agents’ interview with Slager that started that morning at Aylor’s office was a lengthy one, Berry said.
“The interview continued into the afternoon,” he said. “Slager was arrested following the interview.”
This was previously unknown, and soon after Slager’s arrest, the video hit the air and Aylor, loudly and publicly, announced that he no longer represented Slager. While it was bad enough that Aylor chose to make an announcement, immediately after revelation of the video, that he was fleeing Slager’s side, and going out of his way to make clear (while pretending not to) that it was the product of the video, no one knew that the only thing he did as Slager’s lawyer, aside from an insipid statement to the media, was let SLED interrogate his client for hours and hours. And then he quit.
What was he thinking?
While Aylor may well have been unaware of the video at the time he decided to let his client be interrogated, although that’s not necessarily the case, he should have certainly been aware that his client shot Walter Scott in the back.
In the back. That’s a problem, even for a cop. That’s a problem that should have made alarms go off, raised red flags, whatever trite metaphor floats your boat. In the frigging back. Even a good kill doesn’t avoid suspicion when the bullets enter a body through the back.
And yet, Aylor agreed to allow his client to be interrogated. Not just interrogated, but interrogated for hours. The questioning started in the morning and didn’t end until the afternoon, when Slager was arrested. For those who don’t practice criminal defense, this needs to be made clear: you don’t let this happen. You don’t agree to allow your client to be interrogated. You just say no.
Upon the conclusion of the interrogation with Aylor’s blessing, two things happened. Cuffs were slapped on Slager, and Aylor cut and ran to his computer, where he could put his announcement online that he was no longer Slager’s lawyer, and take calls for interviews from interested websites.
Not only did Aylor throw Slager under the bus in the course of shedding a client who was about to make him look awful in the eyes of the public, but he did so after making one of the most incomprehensible tactical moves imaginable. Sure, interrogate the suspect all you want. What could possibly go wrong?
There is a question of whether the interrogation would change things. On the one hand, Slager was a cop, and as such might anticipate an interrogation by the bros as being a friendly affair and one he could handle deftly, with a wink and the incantation of the “I feared for my life” excuse. Doesn’t that always do the trick?
And then there was the video, which is so damning, so clear, so undeniable, that it may well be that no interrogation or refusal thereof could change the reality that Slager was going down for the kill. After all, a refusal to allow Slager to answer questions would not have made the video disappear, right?
All of this is true, and in the end may not alter the course of Slager’s prosecution. Yet, Slager’s new lawyer, Andy Savage, is now saddled with whatever statements Slager made to the SLED investigators, with Aylor’s approval.
To the extent there is a defense, the damage done by the interrogation is obvious. Whatever tack Slager used, it will come back to smack him in the face should the defense try to take a different approach. If Slager takes the stand, he will be impeached by his own words. Allowing this interrogation locks the defense into a narrative from which there is no easy escape.
Many will not shed a tear at this, given that Slager’s conduct is reprehensible. That may be, but even Slager deserves a competent defense, leaving Aylor’s decision to allow his client to be interrogated for hours utterly incomprehensible.
And then he quit. And then he announced that he quit. And then he made it undeniably clear that his quitting came after a video damned his client as guilty of murdering Walter Scott by shooting him in the back and planting a Taser.
Much as it was clear that Aylor’s withdrawal came after the video, it was previously unknown that it came after he also let his client dig himself into an incomprehensible hole. Aylor, on the other hand, was deep in a hole of his own after he shot his mouth off, and with this bit of new information, his hole just got deeper.
Update: As if bad couldn’t get any worse, Aylor is back on the tube. Note his cautionary warning, at about 1:30, about letting the client be questioned.
Can this hole get any deeper?
Main image via Flickr/Petras Gagilas.
This post originally appeared on Simple Justice.