A white former South Carolina police officer pleaded guilty Tuesday (May 2) to violating the civil rights of Walter Scott, the unarmed Black man he shot dead over two years ago
Michael Slager’s plea deal closes both federal and criminal cases against him. Slager was charged with murder last year, but the trial ended in a mistrial.
“The defendant used deadly force even though it was objectively unreasonable under the circumstances,” the plea agreement reads, reported ABC News.
Attorney General Jeff Sessions said in the Justice Department’s statement, “The Department of Justice will hold accountable any law enforcement officer who violates the civil rights of our citizens by using excessive force.”
“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,” Sessions said. “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.”
Scott’s brother, Anthony, told reporters outside of the courthouse that Walter was looking down on them proud of their efforts to seek justice.
“We asked for justice, we received justice. … We got it done,” Anthony Scott said. “This is not just a victory for my family, this is a victory for Charleston, North Charleston, South Carolina, the United States and the world.”
He added, “Today he [Slager] told the truth. He said he did it,” Anthony Scott said. “The healing starts today.”
Walter Scott’s mother, Judy added: “I forgive Michael Slager because the forgiver is in me. That he [Slager] admitted he did it was enough years for me.”
Slager, 35, pulled over Scott on April 4, 2015, for a broken taillight. Scott, 50, bolted from the vehicle, fearful that he’d go to jail for child support arrears, according to the Scott family.
Slager claimed Scott reached for his taser and was fearful for his life. Slager shot Scott five times in the back, which was captured on video by bystander Fednin Santana. The video quickly went viral, promoting the firing of the officer and protests for justice.
“We hope that Michael’s acceptance of responsibility will help the Scott family as they continue to grieve their loss,” Slager’s lawyer, Andy Savage, said in a statement.
Slager could face life in prison when he his sentenced.