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

For indispensable reporting on the coronavirus crisis, the election, and more, subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily newsletter.


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

DOES IT FEEL LIKE POLITICS IS AT A BREAKING POINT?

Headshot of Editor in Chief of Mother Jones, Clara Jeffery

It sure feels that way to me, and here at Mother Jones, we’ve been thinking a lot about what journalism needs to do differently, and how we can have the biggest impact.

We kept coming back to one word: corruption. Democracy and the rule of law being undermined by those with wealth and power for their own gain. So we're launching an ambitious Mother Jones Corruption Project to do deep, time-intensive reporting on systemic corruption, and asking the MoJo community to help crowdfund it.

We aim to hire, build a team, and give them the time and space needed to understand how we got here and how we might get out. We want to dig into the forces and decisions that have allowed massive conflicts of interest, influence peddling, and win-at-all-costs politics to flourish.

It's unlike anything we've done, and we have seed funding to get started, but we're looking to raise $500,000 from readers by July when we'll be making key budgeting decisions—and the more resources we have by then, the deeper we can dig. If our plan sounds good to you, please help kickstart it with a tax-deductible donation today.

Thanks for reading—whether or not you can pitch in today, or ever, I'm glad you're with us.

Signed by Clara Jeffery

Clara Jeffery, Editor-in-Chief

We Recommend

Latest