In a U.S. court this week, former South Carolina police officer Michael Slager has been indicted for civil rights violations and lying to investigators, after shooting and killing Walter Scott “without legal justification” in April, 2015.
The jury found that Slager, who encountered Scott during a traffic stop, deprived the motorist “of his right to be free from the use of unreasonable force by a law enforcement officer.”
Slager was also charged with discharging a gun during a violent crime and obstructing justice by intentionally misleading state investigators.
The shooting in North Charleston drew national attention amid concerns about the use of force against minorities by police in cities across the United States.
“What happened today is that the federal government said it stops now,” Scott family lawyer Chris Stewart said outside the federal courthouse in Charleston, where Slager pleaded not guilty to the new charges. “Police brutality stops now.”
It is rare for a law enforcement officer to be charged with criminal deprivation of civil rights in federal court, said Philip Stinson, an associate professor of criminal justice at Bowling Green State University in Ohio.
After the video surfaced, another recording was released where Slager could be heard laughing about the shooting and talking about the pumping “adrenaline” he felt after killing Scott.
Walter Scott's mom after ex-cop Michael Slager is indicted on federal civil rights charges: "Justice will prevail." https://t.co/iart6zJjQW
— ABC News (@ABC) May 11, 2016
The video contradicted Slager’s claims that he shot the 50-year-old Scott during a defensive struggle for his stun gun, revealing that Scott was sprinting away from Slager when the former patrolman opened fire.
Slager’s arraignment on the federal charges is set for 1:30 p.m. ET in Charleston on Wednesday.