Ex-police officer to plead guilty over shooting of black motorist in US

Ex-police officer to plead guilty over shooting of black motorist in US
The death of Walter Scott led to protests in the US.

A white former South Carolina police officer plans to plead guilty to violating the civil rights of an unarmed black motorist he shot and killed as the man ran from a 2015 traffic stop, according to a copy of the plea agreement.

The 13-page document also says that as part of the deal, state prosecutors will drop a murder charge against Michael Slager, effectively bringing to a close the parallel cases against the former North Charleston officer.

Slager, 35, had been scheduled to appear in federal court for motions ahead of his federal trial later this month over the death of Walter Scott in April 2015.

A bystander captured Mr Scott's shooting on video which was viewed millions of times.

The 50-year-old motorist was running from Slager after a traffic stop when the two men struggled over Slager's Taser before the officer shot at Mr Scott eight times, hitting him with five bullets in the back.

The shooting brought fresh scrutiny to the treatment of black men by white officers across the nation.

"The defendant wilfully used deadly force even though it was objectively unreasonable under the circumstances," according to the plea agreement. "The defendant acknowledges that during the time he used deadly force, he knew that the use of deadly force was unnecessary and excessive, and therefore unreasonable under the circumstances."

In March, a federal judge ruled that jurors in Slager's federal trial would be allowed to view the video, over objections by his defence lawyers.

Despite failing to secure a conviction against Slager last year when his murder trial ended in a hung jury, state prosecutors had been planning to retry him later this year.

The deal, which also drops two remaining federal charges against Slager, drops his pending murder charge.

He could face a life sentence as well as 250,000 dollars (£193,000) in fines when he is sentenced by a federal judge. That hearing will probably come after federal officials spend several weeks preparing a pre-sentence report.

In the agreement, federal prosecutors agreed to recommend Slager receive a reduction in his possible offence level, meaning he would get less than the maximum sentence.

- AP

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