Slager pleads guilty in federal court to using excessive force, taken into custody

This is a sketch from the federal hearing Tuesday in Charleston.

Former North Charleston police officer Michael Slager pleaded guilty in federal court Tuesday to a charge of using excessive force to deprive Walter Scott of his civil rights.

The plea deal struck with federal prosecutors effectively ends the bulk of legal proceedings against Slager related to the April 2015 shooting death of Walter Scott. Slager has been taken into custody, and is now awaiting a sentencing hearing.

Slager was also awaiting a retrial in state court on murder charges after the first state trial ended in mistrial because of a hung jury. Charleston County Solicitor Scarlett Wilson said Tuesday that she now will not pursue a retrial against Slager in light of his guilty plea.

"Slager knew it was wrong and illegal," Wilson said in a statement. "Now that Slager has pleaded guilty to a willful violation, admitted the facts we set out to prove, and waived the right to appeal his conviction, a successive prosecution by the State is not necessary."

SPECIAL SECTION | The Shooting of Walter Scott

Slager's legal team announced his plans to enter a guilty plea early Tuesday morning prior to the hearing. Slager's attorneys released the following statement about his decision"

This afternoon Michael Slager will enter a guilty plea to using excessive force in violation of 18 USC Section 242 as he attempted to arrest Walter Scott on April 4, 2015. We hope that Michael’s acceptance of responsibility will help the Scott family as they continue to grieve their loss. As a sentencing date has not yet been determined, we will refrain from further comment at this time.

In the plea agreement Slager admits:

  • That his Taser dropped to the ground behind him
  • That as Scott was running away, Slager fired eight shots at him from his department issued firearm
  • During the time that each of the eight shots were fired, Scott was unarmed and running away from Slager
  • Five shots hit Scott, all entering from behind

The formal charge Scott has pleaded guilty to is violating Walter Scott's civil rights under the color of law. The maximum penalties Slager faces for the charge are life in prison, a $250,000 fine, supervised released for five years and a $100 Special Assessment.

POLL: Should Michael Slager receive the maximum sentence?

Slager was also originally charged by federal prosecutors with obstruction of justice over what he told SLED agents in an interview following the shooting, and using a weapon to commit a violent crime.

Slager shot Scott in North Charleston in April 2015 following a traffic stop for a broken taillight. Scott ran away from the scene shortly after the stop. Slager gave chase, and the two men eventually wound up in a struggle.

VIDEO: Mother of Walter Scott thankful for 'Holy City'

A bystander videoed Slager shooting Scott multiple times as Scott again tried to run away following the altercation. Slager claims Scott took his Taser during the fight and tried to use it against him. Slager says he shot Scott in self-defense because he feared for his life.

Above is an interactive timeline of events following the shooting death of Walter Scott and the charge of murder against NCPD Officer Michael Slager. MOBILE APP USERS - To view in your browser, click here.

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