A man accused of fatally shooting a Philadelphia police officer abruptly pleaded guilty just as his trial was set to begin.

Thirty-five-year-old Rasheed Scrugs told the court Thursday he was guilty of first-degree murder in the death of Officer John Pawlowski. Scrugs apologized after entering his plea.

The case continued immediately to a penalty phase. The jury that was set to hear opening statements will instead hear testimony to help them decide if Scrugs should be put executed.

Scrugs started a shootout with police after he threatened a cab driver in February 2009. Police said he shot Pawlowski in the chest after being ordered to take his hands out of his pockets.


Information from: The Philadelphia Inquirer, http://www.philly.com