A white former South Carolina police officer pleaded guilty Tuesday to violating the civil rights of Walter Scott, the unarmed black motorist he shot dead in 2015.
The state of South Carolina, as part of a plea deal, will not file new charges against Michael Slager, who was fired after cellphone footage of Scott’s killing in North Charleston went viral. Slager’s murder trial ended last December in a hung jury.
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According to court documents, Slager, while acting as an NCPD Officer, willfully used deadly force on Walter Scott even though it was objectively unreasonable under the circumstances. Slager had stopped Scott’s vehicle after observing that a brake light was not working.
During the stop, Scott fled on foot and Slager pursued him. During the foot chase, Slager deployed his Taser and Scott fell to the ground, according to federal officials.
Scott managed to get off of the ground and again run away. Scott was unarmed and running away when Scott fired eight shots at him from his department-issued firearm.
Officials stated that five shots hit Scott, with all of the bullets entering from behind. Scott died as a result of the injuries from Slager’s gunshots.
“The Department of Justice will hold accountable any law enforcement officer who violates the civil rights of our citizens by using excessive force,” said Attorney General Jeff Sessions. “Such failures of duty not only harm the individual victims of these crimes; they harm our country, by eroding trust in law enforcement and undermining the good work of the vast majority of honorable and honest police officers. As our Department works to support the courageous and professional law enforcement personnel who risk their lives every day to protect us, we will also ensure that police officers who abuse their sacred trust are made to answer for their misconduct.”
“Our hearts are with the Scott family today. They have persevered in their quest for justice for their loved one, and I hope that today brings them a measure of closure,” said U.S. Attorney Beth Drake. “I also want to thank both Solicitor Wilson of the Ninth Judicial Circuit and South Carolina Law Enforcement Division Chief Mark Keel for their efforts to secure justice in this matter.”
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