In a federal plea deal, Michael Slager has plead guilty admitting to using excessive in the fatal shooting of Walter Scott, reports CNN.
Former police officer Michael Slager shot Scott in the back as the unarmed man was running away from Slager after a traffic stop in April 2015. In a reversal from his previous account, Slager admitted in court Tuesday that he did not shoot Scott in self-defense and said that his use of force was unreasonable.
Walter Scott’s death sparked national outcry and protests against police using unjustifiable force particular against men of color.
With his family and Scott’s family present, Slager pleaded guilty in US District Court in Charleston to a federal charge of deprivation of rights under the color of law. In exchange for the plea, state murder charges, as well as two other federal charges, will be dismissed.
The civil rights offense has a maximum penalty of life in prison. The plea agreement states that the government will ask the court to apply sentencing guidelines for second degree murder, which carries up to 25 years in prison.
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“We hope that Michael’s acceptance of responsibility will help the Scott family as they continue to grieve their loss,” Slager’s attorney, Andy Savage, said.
The plea marks one of the first resolutions of a high-profile police shooting under new Attorney General Jeff Sessions, reports CNN. Sessions has ordered a review of police reform activities of the previous administration — many of which were launched in response to police-involved shootings.
“The Department of Justice will hold accountable any law enforcement officer who violates the civil rights of our citizens by using excessive force,” Sessions said in a statement Tuesday. “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.