Ex-Cop in Walter Scott shooting to plead guilty, A former South Carolina police officer who killed an unarmed black motorist in an encounter that was captured on video will plead guilty in federal court on Tuesday, his lawyers said.
Michael T. Slager, who shot and killed Walter L. Scott after a traffic stop and foot pursuit in North Charleston in April 2015, is expected to enter his plea Tuesday afternoon in Federal District Court here.
Mr. Slager’s defense team said the former officer would plead guilty to using excessive force when he shot Mr. Scott. “We hope that Michael’s acceptance of responsibility will help the Scott family as they continue to grieve their loss,” defense lawyers said in a statement.
Ryan Julison, a spokesman for lawyers representing the Scott family, said he could not comment on whether a plea agreement was in place. The family scheduled a news conference for Tuesday afternoon, after Mr. Slager was expected in court.
The plea agreement, reached nearly five months after a jury in state court deadlocked on a murder charge against Mr. Slager, would represent a rare conviction of a police officer in connection with an on-duty killing.
Mr. Slager, unlike many other officers who opened fire while on patrol, was charged within days of the shooting in North Charleston, where Mr. Slager stopped Mr. Scott for a broken taillight on a Saturday morning.
Although the traffic stop was initially routine, Mr. Scott soon jumped from his car and began to flee. (His family has suggested that Mr. Scott ran because he feared being jailed over outstanding child support payments.)
Officer Slager gave chase and, he later testified, struggled with Mr. Scott in a vacant lot. But Mr. Scott broke free and continued to run. Mr. Slager then opened fire, striking Mr. Scott in the back, and sending him crumpling to the ground.
Part of the episode — some of the most controversial seconds of it — unfolded as a local barber recorded the events on his cellphone. Images from the video ricocheted around the internet, sat atop newspaper front pages and led television broadcasts.
Mr. Slager was charged with murder and swiftly fired, and the City of North Charleston reached a $6.5 million settlement with Mr. Scott’s family.
Mr. Slager and his defense team contended that he was a victim of a national campaign against law enforcement and that a good officer had been swept up in an era of protest.
Testifying in court last year, Mr. Slager said that at one point during his the encounter, Mr. Scott gained control of his Taser, leaving the officer in “total fear.”
“I pulled my firearm, and I pulled the trigger,” said Mr. Slager, who said he suffered from nightmares after the shooting. “I fired until the threat was stopped, like I’m trained to do.”
At the state trial, Mr. Slager’s lawyers raised questions about both the prosecution’s evidence and Mr. Scott’s character.
Jurors nearly returned a guilty verdict anyway, intensifying the pressure on Mr. Slager to resolve the outstanding federal and state charges through a plea agreement.