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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DEMOCRACY DOES NOT EXIST...

without free and fair elections, a vigorous free press, and engaged citizens to reclaim power from those who abuse it.

In this election year unlike any other—against a backdrop of a pandemic, an economic crisis, racial reckoning, and so much daily crazy—Mother Jones' journalism is driven by one simple question: Will America move closer to, or further from, justice and equity in the years to come?

If you're able to, please join us in this mission with a donation today. Our reporting right now is focused on voting rights and election security, corruption, disinformation, racial and gender equity, and the climate crisis. We can’t do it without the support of readers like you, and we need to give it everything we've got between now and November. Thank you.

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