Ex-Cop Who Gunned Down an Unarmed, Fleeing Black Man Expected to Plead Guilty Today

Read Officer Michael Slager’s plea agreement here.

“I don’t get surprised by much,” says criminologist Philip Stinson, “but that video took my breath away.”Feidin Santana

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Update, 3:45 pm: Michael Slager pleaded guilty to using excessive force in the fatal shooting death of Walter Scott.

Michael Slager, the former South Carolina police officer who in 2015 was recorded fatally shooting an unarmed black man as he attempted to run away from him, is expected to plead guilty to federal civil rights charges on Tuesday.

Slager faces charges of violating civil rights, obstructing justice, and using a firearm for a violent crime. The charges carry a maximum sentence of life in prison. The Post and Courier reports it is not known at this time to which charges Slager will plead guilty. It also remains possible he could change his mind before the scheduled hearing at 2:30 pm local time. Slager was also slated for an August retrial on state charges, but the plea agreement stipulates that those charges will be dropped if Slager pleads guilty…

 

 

Here’s the quick backstory: In April 2015, Slager, a white officer in the North Charleston police department, gunned down an unarmed black man named Walter Scott as he tried to flee a routine traffic violation stop. He originally told authorities that Scott had stolen his Taser and tried to use the stun gun against him. Days later, the New York Times published a bystander’s cell phone recording of the lethal confrontation that appeared to directly contradict Slager’s account. Slager’s first murder trial in South Carolina resulted in a hung jury. He was indicted on the three new federal charges in May.

Here’s Michael Sokolove’s definitive piece on the Scott/Slager case—a moving portrait of the police shooting and its devastating aftermath:

What Does It Take to Convict a Cop?” The mistrial of Officer Michael Slager. Jeremy M. Lange

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You just sent an incredible message: that quality journalism doesn't have to answer to advertisers, billionaires, or hedge funds; that newsrooms can eke out an existence thanks primarily to the generosity of its readers. That's so powerful. Especially during what's been called a "media extinction event" when those looking to make a profit from the news pull back, the Mother Jones community steps in.

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