Michael Slager, the police officer who shot Walter Scott in the back as he ran away, pleaded guilty to a federal charge today in a plea deal that could see him face up to 25 years in prison.
In a plea deal with prosecutors, former South Carolina police officer Michael Slager admitted to using excessive force in the 2015 shooting death of Walter Scott.
Slager shot Scott in the back as the unarmed man was running away from Slager after a traffic stop. In a reversal from his previous account, Slager admitted in court Tuesday that he did not shoot Scott in self-defense and said that his use of force was unreasonable.
Scott’s death sparked renewed “Black Lives Matter” protests after the 50-year-old became the latest in a series of unarmed black men killed by police.
With his family and Scott’s family present, Slager pleaded guilty Tuesday in US District Court in Charleston to a federal charge of deprivation of rights under the color of law. In exchange for the plea, state murder charges, as well as two other federal charges, will be dismissed.
The civil rights offense has a maximum penalty of life in prison. The plea agreement states that the government will ask the court to apply sentencing guidelines for second degree murder, which carries up to 25 years in prison. He was taken into custody after the hearing and will remain there until sentencing later this year.
The sentencing guidelines asking for 25 years seems reasonable, as Scott’s death was consistent with second degree murder.
We called this shooting a bad one from the very beginning, and hope that Scott’s family feels that they’ve finally achieved some measure of justice.