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Feds indict S.C. cop who shot Walter Scott on civil rights charges

Walter Scott's mother, Judy Scott, hopes her son's case will help usher in police reforms.

By Brooks Hays
Feds indict S.C. cop who shot Walter Scott on civil rights charges
North Charleston, S.C., police officer Michael Slager was charged with civil rights violations related to the shooting to death Walter Scott. Image courtesy the North Charleston Police Department

CHARLESTON, S.C., May 11 (UPI) -- The South Carolina cop who shot and killed fleeing motorist Walter Scott was indicted Wednesday by a federal grand jury on three civil rights charges -- for the shooting, obstruction of a police investigation and the use of a weapon in a violent crime.

At Michael Slager's arraignment, Attorney General Loretta Lynch said federal prosecutors would not seek the death penalty. If convicted, Slager could face a maximum sentence of life in prison and a $250,000 fine.

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Because the judge decided to keep the $500,000 bond set in his state murder case, Slager will remain under house arrest during his trial.

Though the federal charges entitle Slager to new counsel, the ex-cop chose to keep the lawyer appointed to him in his South Carolina murder case.

Scott's family said they're concerned that Slager will remain free on bond, but are happy that the feds are sending a strong message to bad cops.

"If you want to know what civil rights history looks like, take a look at today," Chris Stewart, the family's lawyer, told reporters. "This is historic. This should not be taken lightly."

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Walter's brother Anthony Scott called the day's events bittersweet.

"We would not even be here today," Scott said. "We would not be getting justice today."

In April 2015, Scott, a black motorist, was shot by Slager, who is white, as Scott attempted to flee the scene after being pulled over.

"Slager repeatedly fired his weapon at Scott when Scott was running away from him," according to the indictment.

Scott's arrest came amidst a growing sea of unrest after several high profile killings of black victims by white cops. Some reforms, like body cameras, have since been adopted by local police forces.

Scott's mother, Judy, hopes her son's case will help usher in further reforms, and said she was glad God used her son to pull the veil on police violence.

"I'm happy for that, but I'm sad because my son is gone," she said. "I pray that other mothers won't go through what I have been going through."

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