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Legal fee case dismissed after ex-officer’s guilty plea

FILE - In this Monday, Dec. 5, 2016, file photo, former South Carolina police officer Michael Slager, right, walks from the Charleston County Courthouse under the protection of the Charleston County Sheriff's Department after a mistrial was declared for his trial in Charleston, S.C. Slager is pleading guilty to violating the civil rights of an unarmed black motorist he shot and killed during a 2015 traffic stop. A copy of the plea agreement obtained by The Associated Press Tuesday, May 2, 2017, also shows state prosecutors are dropping a pending murder charge against Slager. (AP Photo/Mic Smith, File)

COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) — A dispute over legal fees for a white ex-police officer charged in the shooting death of a black motorist in South Carolina was dismissed this week, on the same day as the former lawman’s guilty plea to federal civil rights charges.

Michael Slager’s lawsuit against the Southern States Police Benevolent Association was dismissed Tuesday, according to federal court documents. The two parties settled out of court earlier this year for an undisclosed amount.

Slager hired an attorney through the police advocacy group after the April 2015 shooting death of Walter Scott. But that lawyer dropped Slager days later when a bystander’s cellphone video of the shooting surfaced.

The video, viewed millions of times online, shows the 50-year-old Scott running from Slager, getting about 17 feet from him before the officer fired eight times at his back. Scott then crumples to the ground. Five of the bullets hit his body.

Slager was fired and charged with murder. The association said it wouldn’t pay for Slager’s attorney because Scott’s shooting was outside the duties of a police officer, but Slager argued the union had violated an insurance contract promising unlimited legal aid if he were involved in a shooting.

Slager, 35, is currently awaiting sentencing after pleading guilty Tuesday to violating Scott’s civil rights by shooting him without justification. He could get up to life in prison and a $250,000 fine, though prosecutors agreed to ask for about 20 years behind bars. No sentencing date has been set.

Five months ago, a jury deadlocked on the state murder charge. South Carolina prosecutors agreed to drop their attempt to retry him as part of Tuesday’s plea bargain.


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