The Latest: Scott family says plea represents justice

The Latest: Scott family says plea represents justice Photo: AP

May 03, 2017 02:55 AM

CHARLESTON, S.C. (AP) — The Latest on fired police officer Michael Slager's plea agreement in the death of Walter Scott. (all times local):

4:15 p.m.

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An attorney for the family of a black motorist shot to death by a white South Carolina police officer says justice has been done with the officer's guilty plea.

Chris Stewart told reporters on Tuesday that the family of Walter Scott is thankful for the help and support shown to them by local and state officials after the 50-year-old motorist's April 2015 death.

But Stewart pointed out that verdicts against officers like Michael Slager are rare. Stewart says it's the job of citizens to hold their public officials accountable, and to object whenever the justice system treats officers differently from civilians.

Stewart spoke after Slager pleaded guilty in federal court to violating Scott's civil rights. Prosecutors dropped state murder charges as part of the deal.

Scott's brother Anthony also spoke, saying this represents a victory for his family which can now begin to heal.

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4 p.m.

The state prosecutor who pursued murder charges against a South Carolina officer in the shooting death of an unarmed black motorist says she's satisfied with the case's resolution.

Solicitor Scarlett Wilson says Michael Slager's guilty plea to a federal civil rights charge represents justice for the family of 50-year-old Walter Scott.

Wilson's statement said she had spent hours with Scott's family since his 2015 death following a traffic stop in North Charleston.

Jurors failed to reach a verdict last year in the murder case, which Wilson agreed to drop as part of Slager's plea on Tuesday.

Wilson said the murder case was important, but didn't address the violation of Scott's civil rights. She says this deal "vindicates the State's interests" by holding Slager accountable.

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3:30 p.m.

A defense lawyer says he won't comment about the guilty plea of his client, a fired North Charleston police officer who admits violating the civil rights of an unarmed black motorist by fatally shooting him during a traffic stop.

Attorney Andy Savage, representing Michael Slager, said outside the courthouse that he thinks "it's best just to leave it as it is today."

Slager's plea deal Tuesday with federal and South Carolina prosecutors closes both cases against him in the fatal shooting of Walter Scott. He still faces a potential life sentence, but prosecutors are recommending about 20 years.

Savage says "this is a day for the Scott family and the government."

He says Slager's team "will have more to say as we get down the road."

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3 p.m.

Fired North Charleston Police officer Michael Slager has pled guilty to violating the civil rights of an unarmed black motorist he shot in back. The death of Walter Scott was seen worldwide after a bystander recorded it on his cellphone.

Slager likely faces prison under the terms of his plea deal with prosecutors.

He spoke little on Tuesday, except to quietly answer the judge's questions.

Several of Scott's relatives sat on the front row in the courtroom gallery as the prosecutor read a bare-bones description of the shooting. One of them closed his eyes tightly while another hung his head.

Slager has been out on bond for much of the time since the shooting, but now that he's guilty, he was handcuffed by a federal marshal and led from the courtroom as Scott's family looked on.

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12:20 p.m.

Attorneys for fired police officer Michael Slager confirm he will plead guilty to a federal civil rights charge in the shooting death of unarmed black motorist Walter Scott.

The law office of Andy Savage said in a statement Tuesday that Slager would be entering the plea during a hearing later in the day in Charleston.

Savage's statement confirms information in a copy of the plea agreement obtained earlier in the day by The Associated Press.

Slager faces a possible life sentence for violating Scott's civil rights during the April 2015 traffic stop, but prosecutors have agreed to seek a lesser sentence.

A bystander captured Scott's death on a cellphone video viewed millions of times.

Savage said he hopes the guilty plea might help Scott's family heal.

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10 a.m.

Former South Carolina police officer Michael Slager is pleading guilty to violating the civil rights of an unarmed black motorist he shot and killed as he ran from a 2015 traffic stop.

A copy of the plea agreement obtained by The Associated Press on Tuesday also shows state prosecutors are dropping a pending murder charge against Slager. The AP obtained the agreement from a lawyer familiar with the case who didn't want to talk publicly before it was finalized.

Slager was scheduled to appear in federal court Tuesday for motions ahead of his federal trial planned for later this month in the death of Walter Scott.

A bystander captured Scott's shooting on cellphone video, viewed millions of times.

Slager's first trial on state murder charges ended in a hung jury.

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(Copyright 2017 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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