Michael Slager, the white cop who was caught on video two years ago shooting and killing Walter Scott, an unarmed black man running in the opposite direction, pleaded guilty to federal charges of using excessive force Tuesday, the Post and Courier reports.
Slager escaped conviction in his state murder case last December after a mistrial. Jurors—11 white and one black—were unable to agree that Slager committed murder when he shot Scott in the back five times in an open field in April 2015.
Prosecutors were planning on trying Slager again this month, but agreed to drop murder charges as part of the plea agreement. Still, pleading guilty to the federal civil rights charge could land Slager in prison for the rest of his life. According to the Associated Press, prosecutors will ask for the former cop to spend more than 20 years behind bars.
"We hope that Michael's acceptance of responsibility will help the Scott family as they continue to grieve their loss," Andrew Savage, Slager's attorney, said in a statement Tuesday.
Slager's encounter with Scott began when he pulled the 50-year-old over for a broken taillight. Scott soon took off on foot and, at one point, according to Slager, stole his taser. But a bystander named Feidin Santan caught the rest of the incident on camera, filming Slager shooting Scott, who was clearly moving in the opposite direction and did not appear to represent a threat. Still, Slager said in his state trial that he fired his gun because he was in "total fear," according to the New York Times.
Apparently, escaping a murder conviction by the skin on his teeth was enough to convince the ex-cop—who was fired soon after the shooting—to change his tune.
This post has been updated.