The former North Charleston, S.C., police officer who escaped state prosecution for the shooting death of motorist Walter Scott because of a hung jury will reportedly plead guilty to federal charges against him on Tuesday afternoon, according to the Charleston Post and Courier.
Michael Slager, 35, is facing three federal charges including obstruction of justice, depriving Scott of his legal rights and criminal use of a firearm. He had been tried by the state last year for shooting Scott, who was unarmed, in the back as he ran away when he was stopped in his car on April 4, 2015.
The incident was captured on video and Slager was fired over it. He claimed self-defense, saying he feared for his life after Scoot took his taser. A jury could not come to a verdict when one juror held out, causing a mistrial to be declared. But a retrial had been scheduled for August. He was scheduled to appear in court for motions for the federal trial, which was to begin jury selection on May 9.
Unless Slager changes his mind, he will be sentenced by a federal judge instead of undergoing the trial that was set to begin on May 15. According to a plea agreement, the Associated Press reported, the state charges against him would be dropped, essentially ending all future criminal court proceedings in the case. He could be sentenced to anywhere from no prison time to life behind bars, the Post and Courier says. But the sentencing is unlikely to come on Tuesday. Officials are expected to prepare pre-sentencing paperwork and a judge would hand down the penalty a later date.
Scott’s family has not publicly spoken about the decision, but their spokesman, Ryan Julison, said they would be heard from after Tuesday’s hearing. No statement has been offered yet from Slager or his lawyers.