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


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

THE BIG QUESTION...

as we head into 2020 is whether politics and media will be a billionaires’ game, or a playing field where the rest of us have a shot. That's what Mother Jones CEO Monika Bauerlein tackles in her annual December column—"Billionaires Are Not the Answer"—about the state of journalism and our plans for the year ahead.

We can't afford to let independent reporting depend on the goodwill of the superrich: Please help Mother Jones build an alternative to oligarchy that is funded by and answerable to its readers. Please join us with a tax-deductible, year-end donation so we can keep going after the big stories without fear, favor, or false equivalency.

THE BIG QUESTION...

as we head into 2020 is whether politics and media will be a billionaires’ game, or a playing field where the rest of us have a shot.

Please read our annual column about the state of journalism and Mother Jones' plans for the year ahead, and help us build an alternative to oligarchy by supporting our people-powered journalism with a year-end gift today.

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our newsletters

Subscribe and we'll send Mother Jones straight to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate

We have a new comment system! We are now using Coral, from Vox Media, for comments on all new articles. We'd love your feedback.