The former South Carolina police officer caught on video opening fire into at the back of a black man who was running away is expected to plead guilty in federal court Tuesday, according to people familiar with the case.
Michael Slager, who worked for the North Charleston Police Department, had faced both federal civil rights and state murder charges in connection with the April 2015 shooting of Walter Scott, a 50-year-old unarmed motorist who was running away after a traffic stop. The incident was captured on camera by a bystander, and the graphic footage rocketed around news stations and the Internet.
It was not immediately clear whether Slager’s plea would resolve both the state and federal cases, though the parties had discussed such a resolution in the past, the people familiar with the case said. The plea was expected to take place in federal court in Charleston Tuesday afternoon during what was supposed to be a different hearing in the case.
Late last year, Slager went to trial on the state charges, but jurors could not reach a verdict. Slager claimed during that trial that he was justified in shooting Scott because he feared for his life.
A spokesman for the U.S. Attorney’s Office in South Carolina declined to comment on the specifics of what was to take place Tuesday, and Justice Department spokespeople and Slager’s defense attorney did not immediately return messages seeking comment. A spokesman for Ninth Circuit Solicitor Scarlett A. Wilson, whose office brought the state case against Slager, declined to comment.