May 2 (UPI) -- A former South Carolina police officer who was captured on video shooting an unarmed motorist to death two years ago pleaded guilty Tuesday in an agreement with prosecutors.
Michael Slager entered the plea in federal district court in Charleston on Tuesday afternoon.
Slager was charged with violating rights under cover of law, lying to investigators and using a firearm in a violent crime. Under Tuesday's agreement, Slager pleaded guilty to a count of using excessive force in exchange for the dismissal of other state and federal charges, including murder.
Slager could still face life in prison for the excessive force plea, but that's unlikely due to federal sentencing guidelines. Probation agents will take weeks to prepare a pre-sentencing report.
"We hope that Michael's acceptance of responsibility will help the Scott family as they continue to grieve their loss," defense lawyers said in a statement.
Slager's plea sidesteps a trial, which had been scheduled to start May 15.
"Today is a day of victory for Walter. We got justice," Judy Scott, the victim's mother, said at a news conference Tuesday. "I love my son. I miss him dearly. And I thank God for justice."
Slager maintained that he fired in self-defense after Scott took his stun gun after a traffic stop on April 4, 2015. Scott ran away before the two grappled over the stun gun, the former officer said. A cellphone video of the incident shows Scott running away as Slager began shooting. Five of eight bullets fired struck Scott.
A jury considered the the video evidence in 2016 and could not agree if Slager committed murder, manslaughter or no crime. His pending trial was to consider if Scott's civil rights were violated.