By Frederick H. Lowe –
(TriceEdneyWire.com) – Michael Slager, a former police officer, who killed motorist Walter Scott Jr. by shooting a fleeing Scott in the back, lied about the circumstances surrounding the shooting until a cell phone video surfaced showing what really happened, on Tuesday pled guilty to federal charges of violating Scott’s civil rights.
The U.S. Justice Department announced the plea agreement with Slager, a former cop employed by the North Charleston, S.C., police department before jury selection for the federal trial was scheduled to begin on May 9th. A second state trial had been scheduled for August.
A state jury couldn’t reach a verdict on state murder charges in the first trial and Circuit Court Judge Clifton Newman declared a mistrial. Before Tuesday’s announcement, Prosecutor Scarlett A. Wilson of the Ninth Judicial Circuit said she would retry Slager who also faced state charges for manslaughter. He was temporarily released from custody but is now back in jail.
The plea agreement resolves federal and state charges pending against Slager.
Slager stopped Scott on Aug. 4, 2015, because his brake light wasn’t working.
After the stop, Scott ran away and Slager chased him. He fired his Taser and Scott fell to the ground before getting back on his feet.
Slager then fired eight shots at Scott, hitting him five times in the back, killing him. Scott, a 50-year old Coast Guard veteran, was not armed.
Initially, Slager lied to law enforcement officials, saying he fired his gun at Scott because he was running towards him in a menacing manner. A bystander recorded the shooting on his cell phone video, which told the world a very different story.
“According to documents filed in connection with the guilty plea, Michael Slager, while acting as an NCPD officer, willfully used deadly force on Walter Scott even though it was objectively unreasonable under the circumstances,” Justice officials said in a news release.
Slager, 35, faces a maximum of life in prison for the federal civil rights violation as well as a $250,000 fine. The city of North Charleston paid Scott’s family $6.5 million.
Cops expected to walk in another deadly shooting
In a separate deadly shooting of a black man by two white police officers, the U.S. Justice Department will not pursue criminal charges against the cops in the shooting death of Alton Sterling, several newspapers are reporting.
Blane Salamoni and Howie Lake II of the Baton Rouge Police Department in Baton Rouge, La., fatally shot the 37-year-old Sterling as a bystander captured the deadly shooting on cell phone video. Sterling, father of five, was killed after being shot five times on July 5th. During a struggle, one of the cops claimed he saw Sterling pull a gun. He was shot to death while selling CDs in a shopping center. Police descended on the location after receiving a report of a man with a gun. They reportedly pulled a gun from Sterling’s pocket, but he wasn’t waving around the weapon threatening people.
His murder sparked angry demonstrations in Baton Rouge and nationwide.
Several weeks after the shooting, Gavin Long, a former Marine from Kansas City, Mo., opened fire in Baton Rouge, killing city police officers Montrell Jackson, 32, Matthew Gerald, 41, and East Baton Rouge Parish Sheriff’s Deputy Brad Garafola, 45. The 29-year-old Long wounded three other officers.
Long’s mother, Corine Woodley, said her son would become very angry when police killed black men. Her son wanted black people to fight back, Woodley said.