A former South Carolina police officer, charged in the 2015 videotaped fatal shooting of a fleeing man pleaded guilty Tuesday on the eve of his federal civil rights trial.
Michael Slager, 35, who was charged last year in a three-count indictment in connection with the shooting of Walter Scott, 50, entered a guilty plea in a Charleston federal court to one count of using excessive force.
"We hope that Michael’s acceptance of responsibility will help the Scott family as they continue to grieve their loss,'' attorney Andrew Savage III said in a statement prior to an afternoon hearing. "As a sentencing date has not yet been determined, we will refrain from further comment at this time.''
Slager, a former North Charleston officer, faces a sentence ranging from no prison time to life.
The April 4, 2015 incident, which began with a simple traffic stop, was captured on video and ultimately showed Slager, a white officer, shooting Scott, a black man, as he attempted to flee from the scene on foot.
Images of the shooting immediately went viral, escalating already-simmering tensions between minority communities and local law enforcement agencies around the country following a succession of fatal incidents involving police and black suspects.
In the days after the shooting, federal prosecutors alleged that Slager "knowingly and intentionally misled'' state investigators in his account of the shooting.
The state's murder case against the officer ended in a mistrial last December. Jury selection in the federal case was scheduled to begin next week.