Cop Who Killed Walter Scott Pleads Guilty, Feds Agree to Recommend Lighter Sentence of 14 to 19 Years

The charge of violating rights under color of law comes with a potential life sentence, or no prison time at all.


Scott family

Michael Slager, the cop who shot and killed Walter Scott in North Charleston, S.C., while Scott was running away from him, has entered a guilty plea in federal court this afternoon after entering into a plea agreement with state and federal prosecutors.

State prosecutors, who were preparing for a re-trial after a hung jury, agreed to drop charges and federal prosecutors agreed to drop two charges, obstruction of justice and use of a firearm during a crime of violence, in exchange for a guilty plea on the charge of violating civil rights under the color of law.

Additionally, federal prosecutors agreed to recommend a lighter sentence. The plea agreement specifies that "the government will advocate for the Court to apply the guidelines for Second Degree Murder and Obstruction of Justice, and reserves the right to seek a guidelines sentence, up to and including a sentence of life imprisonment," and that prosecutors will apply a 3 level reduction to the sentencing guidelines.

According to the federal sentencing guidelines manual, that means Slager can expect to be sentenced to between 14 years and eight months to 18 years and eight months in prison for killing Scott, if the judge heeds the recommendation by federal prosecutors. For convicts without a previous criminal history, second degree murder usually comes with a recommended sentence of 19 years and seven months to 24 years and five months, while obstruction of justice carries a recommended sentence of 15 to 21 months—the plea agreement can be expected to shave about six years off the recommended sentencing.

Other provisions of the plea agreement include the government being permitted to withdraw from its obligations while retaining Slager's guilty plea if he "engages in conduct inconsistent with accepting responsibility," such as making statements minimizing his crime or "unlawful personal use of a controlled substance." Federal and state prosecutors can also withdraw from the plea agreement if Slager breaks any other federal or state law or any other provision of the agreement, "express or implied."

Slager will be sentenced at a future hearing.

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  1. I am disappointed by the brevity of the sentence, but heartened by the fact that there is one.

    1. 20 years is the maximum stretch anyone should spend in prison for any crime. Being an officer of the law who shoots a dude in the back while he’s running away is pretty bad, so the sentence is pretty good. Especially, as you note, since there is one at all.

      1. Maybe 20 years should be the max without considering parole, but there are genuinely predatory people out there who i don’t have any moral qualms about locking up forever.

        1. Yeah but they usually get elected to high office sooner or later.

        2. but there are genuinely predatory people out there who i don’t have any moral qualms about locking up forever.

          I think rabid dogs should be put down…

          But, if “entended solitary confinement” is cruel and unusual, so is locking some dude doing 3-5 for G.T.A. in the same “general population” with that predator who has nothing to lose for killing some random dude in prison.

      2. So if someone murders whole families, or blows up a building with innocent people in it, or enslaves children for the sex trade, they serve their twenty and go home?

  2. Why would he plead guilty after a hung jury? I wouldn’t. Would you?

    1. A roided-up bully who’d shoot a fleeing man in the back in a park in broad daylight is not gonna be a paragon of intellect.

    2. Federal case might have panned out differently?

    3. A cop got a hung jury. Usually it’s a medal and paid time off. He was understandably nervous.

      1. Scott was clearly running to rally his criminal associates for an assault on an orphanage. Slager was just protecting the children.

  3. We need 4 more definitions of murder. I get the difference between involuntary, aggravated, pre-meditated, from a sentencing standpoint, but there is no rational basis for some distinction based on a federal statute that seems to ignore the others. I am so confused with our intentionally confusing legal system.

    On that note, can we have 4 more definitions of theft?

    1. Luckily, the cop didn’t plead guilty to murder, of any sort. Merely of depriving someone of their civil rights. With extreme prejudice.

  4. Impossible. Fake news. Cops never do time.

    1. The exception obliterates the pattern!

  5. If some bystander hadn’t gotten all of this on video, Slager would still be out there, pulling people like Scott over for chicken-shit tail light infractions.

    And there are still plenty of Slagers out there. They just haven’t been caught.

  6. Too bad they can’t sentence him at a past hearing.

  7. All the hand wringing and butt scratching in the world will not take the one clear thing in this. He shot someone in the back that was running AWAY from him. How is it possible to get a hung jury?

    1. Yes, I agree. How the fuck does this end up in a hung jury? The guy shot a fleeing unarmed nonviolent offender multiple times in the back. It was an execution for a nonviolent offense. That’s murder, plain and simple. This is yet more evidence that jurors are often brain dead imbeciles.

      1. A single holdout can hang a jury. One racist, or one cop sympathizer.

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