A white former police officer whose killing of an unarmed black man running from a traffic stop was captured on video has pled guilty to federal civil rights charges that could send him to prison for 20 years.
The plea from Michael Slager, 35, came five months after a jury deadlocked on state murder charges against him in the 2015 shooting of Walter Scott.
South Carolina prosecutors had planned to retry Slager, but as part of Tuesday’s plea bargain, they agreed to drop the murder case.
Slager admitted violating Scott’s civil rights by shooting him without justification.
He could get up to life in prison and a $250,000 fine at sentencing, though prosecutors agreed to ask for more than 20 years behind bars. No sentencing date was set.
Slager pulled Scott over for a broken brake light in North Charleston on April 4, 2015.
The 50-year-old Scott got out of his car and tried to flee. Slager chased him and shot him with a Taser, knocking him down.
When Scott got up and ran again, Slager shot him five times in the back, killing him.
Slager had claimed that Scott tried to attack him with the Taser. A mobile phone video of the incident made by a bystander showed that Slager was in no danger and had no apparent reason for shooting Scott as he ran.
The chilling video helped fuel the Black Lives Matter movement that emerged around the 2014 police killing of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri.
It was seized on by many as vivid proof of what they had been arguing for years: that white officers too often use deadly force unnecessarily against black people.