Michael Slager pleads guilty to killing of Walter Scott

A white former police officer whose killing of an unarmed black man running from a traffic stop was captured on cellphone video pleaded guilty Tuesday to federal civil rights charges.

Michael Slager, 35, who was charged previous year in a three-count indictment in connection with the shooting of Walter Scott, 50, entered a guilty plea in a Charleston federal court to one count of using excessive force.

Slager pleading guilty to violating Scott's civil rights in federal court this afternoon will end the federal case against him and also resolve the state charges that were still pending after a mistrial was declared in the state murder trial past year.

Michael Slager, the former Charleston, S.C. police officer that gunned down fleeing Black man Walter Scott, has pleaded guilty to the charges.

"The defendant willfully used deadly force even though it was objectively unreasonable under the circumstances", said the Justice Department, while Attorney General Jeff Sessions released a statement of his own saying the DOJ would "hold accountable any law enforcement officer who violates the civil rights of our citizens by using excessive force". And a state prosecutor filed a murder charge against Slager.

By admitting he sought to deprive Scott of his civil rights - a federal offense - Slager may end up spending decades behind bars.

The blatant nature of the video helped spark a national conversation about the use of deadly force and the shooting of black suspects by white officers.

Scott, 50, then ran from the traffic stop and was struck five shots by Slager in the back. However, the U.S. Justice Department charged Slager with violating Scott's civil rights, obstructing justice, and unlawfully using a weapon during the commission of a crime. Slager testified in court that he feared for his life when he shot the unarmed man, who was shown running away from him. Federal and state prosecutors can also withdraw from the plea agreement if Slager breaks any other federal or state law or any other provision of the agreement, "express or implied".

"First of all, I would like to thank God for all He's done", said Anthony Scott, Walter's brother, during a press conference following the hearing.

Slager, 35, could have been imprisoned for life in each case if convicted in the April 2015 death of Walter Scott.

Outside court on Tuesday, Chris Stewart, an attorney who won $6.5m for the Scott family in a settlement with the city of North Charleston, said: "We know what justice truly looks like". The plea agreement will conclude with Slager's admission to the count of excessive use of force.

A more-than-five-week state trial ended in a mistrial past year after a jury was unable to come to a unanimous decision in the case. In South Carolina's murder case, a murder conviction would have netted Slager a 30-year-to-life term. The US has seen what appeared to outsiders to be solid cases evaporate in trials in Baltimore, Minneapolis, and NY.



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