A white former South Carolina police officer will plead guilty Tuesday in a federal civil rights case over the fatal shooting of unarmed black motorist Walter Scott, two attorneys close to the case told NBC News.
The state of South Carolina, meanwhile, will drop a pending murder charge against Michael Slager, who was fired after cellphone footage of Scott’s killing went viral. Slager’s first murder trial ended last December in a hung jury.
The charge is a felony and is punishable by up to life in prison. Slager is expected to plead guilty Tuesday at 2:30 p.m. ET.
Slager shot Walter Scott, an unarmed black man, as Scott was running away from him following a traffic stop in April 2015.
Slager later said he feared for his life because Scott had grabbed his Taser. But the officer’s account did little to calm the backlash over the killing.
According to a plea agreement, Slager will plead guilty to one federal charge of violating Scott’s civil rights. In exchange, two other federal charges against him will be dropped, as will a state murder charge.
The plea would allow Slager, who was an officer in North Charleston, S.C., at the time of the shooting, to avoid a jury trial.