A former SC police officer who killed an unarmed black motorist in an encounter that was captured on video pleaded guilty in federal court on Tuesday.
Former Charleston, South Carolina, Officer Michael Slager, 35, on Tuesday admitted violating Walter Scott's civil rights by shooting him without justification. Slager faces a possible sentence of life in prison if convicted, but the possible prison sentence following a plea agreement remain undetermined.
Slager's federal trial was set to begin on May 15, and jury selection was slated to begin May 9, according to an NBC News report. During the stop, Scott ran away and Slager ran after him.
To add insult to injury, as the video shows, after Slager shot Walter Scott he calmly approached him, offering no medical assistance and then handcuffed the injured man. Video, though, showed Scott running away, and an expert witness estimated that he was 17 to 18 feet away when Slager fired the first shot.
Though Slager's plea deal doesn't mention race, it does acknowledge that Slager's "actions were done willfully, that he acted voluntarily and intentionally and with specific intent to do something that the law forbids".
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Convictions of US police officers charged in on-duty fatal shootings are rare.
Slager claimed during his state trial that he was justified in shooting Scott because he feared for his life.
As part of the plea deal, the state of South Carolina will drop a murder charge against Slager, according to Alexandra Olgin of South Carolina Public Radio.
Slager also testified a year ago that he regrets what happened. The footage commanded worldwide attention and was cited by members of the Black Lives Matter movement as among the clearest evidence of the fatal consequences of racially biased policing in the US.
"My family has been destroyed by it". "The civil rights aspect of the killing of Walter Scott has always been important to the Scott family, to our community and to our nation".