In 2015, the “Black Lives Matter” movement was further sparked by a malicious killing of an unarmed black man. Fifty-year-old Walter Scott, who was a father of four children and served in the Coast Guard before being honorably discharged, was pulled over for a broken tail light by Officer Michael Slager. Unfortunately, Scott decided to run away from the officer, which prompted Slager to fire eight shots to his back, fatally wounding him.
If it was not for the footage of a bystander, the police department, as well as the general public, would not have seen what really happened — especially since Slager stated that he felt endangered as a result of Scott trying to remove his taser. This was determined to be fabricated, as footage showed that the taser was planted near the body of Scott. As a result of the incident, Slater was fired by the South Carolina police chief as well as criminally charged by a state prosecutor.
It was reported that, at the time of the arrest, Scott owed over $18,000 in child support back pay for two children, and had not made a payment for three years. He was afraid that an arrest would give him automatic jail time for this offense and made an instinctive decision to run in hopes to avoid the child support situation. This prompted Justin Bamberg, a lawyer for the Scott family, to pose the question of why he was running as if it would mitigate the decision of Slager to unload on Scott as he was running away.
For the family of Scott, things did not get better regarding the situation following his death. In court, there was a mistrial for Slager, who initially plead not guilty to the criminal charges against him. His older brother, Walter, stated that “In my heart, I will find the peace to forgive Michael Slager. But at this present time, until my family can see justice, no, there’s no forgiveness.” Moreover, he added, “We’re not going to tear up this city. We’re going to keep it just the way it is. We’re going to believe in peaceful protests, because it didn’t turn out the way we feel, but we feel our voices need to be heard.”
In late 2016, Circuit Court Judge Clifton Newton read aloud, “We as the jury regret to inform the court that despite the best efforts of all members, we are unable to come to a unanimous decision,” as reported by the Washington Post. This occurred after 20 hours of deliberations from the juror, who were shown to be outwardly emotional about the decision made.
Despite this, CNN and the New York Daily News report that Slager has decided to plead guilty for the incident, and has agreed to put this case to rest. The information provided by the video, along with the mourning of the families, has shifted the tone of the case, providing relief for the Scott family. The plea agreement will conclude with Slager’s admission to the count of excessive use of force. This charge is considered a felony and is punishable up to life in prison. The remaining charges are expected to be dismissed.
After the mistrial last December, supporters of Scott did not give up on justice being served. With the assistance of the prosecution, the expectation was that another trial would be held, especially since the conclusion of the trial left more answers than questions. In the mindset of the Scott family and their supporters, Slager has decided to do the right thing amid insurmountable evidence that disproved his claims. As Walter’s brother Anthony stated, a child support issue should not have ended a life and there has to be consequences for the choices that were made.
Update: The New York Times has reported that Slager has indeed plead guilty to the excessive force charge. In a statement, Slager’s lawyer stated, “We hope that Michael’s acceptance of responsibility will help the Scott family as they continue to grieve their loss.”
[Featured Image by Grace Beahm/Getty Images]