Ex-South Carolina cop sentenced to 20 years

Friday, 08 Dec, 2017

A white former police officer says he is grateful for the forgiveness from the family of a black man that he shot to death.

The death of Walter Scott in April 2015 was one of the most shocking in a series of high-profile USA police shootings, often involving minorities, that have deepened tensions and added to distrust between officers and the communities they serve.

In April 2015, Slager pulled over Walter Scott for a broken taillight.

Slager took responsibility for his actions that day and said the tragic event that occurred in seconds changed the lives of everyone involved.

On Thursday, Michael Slager who fatally shot Walter Scott as he ran away from in 2015, was sentenced to 20 years in prison for the killing.

Slager pleaded guilty in May to violating Scott's civil rights, stating during his plea hearing that he "used deadly force even though it was objectively unreasonable under the circumstances", according to the New York Times.

What it did capture, though, is Slager repeatedly firing at Mr Scott as he was attempting to run away.

The case was ultimately heard in federal court after US attorneys reached a plead deal with Slager earlier this year. After he found that the shooting was murder, the judge said he'd work from guidelines that recommend Slager spend 19 to 24 years in prison.

Although the sentence fell short of what prosecutors had sought, the fact that Slager was convicted of any crime at all in the case made it a milestone in the national debate about police conduct.

During tearful statements in court, several members of Scott's family said they forgave the officer and were praying for him. "I'm not angry at you, Michael", he said in court. "I pray for you, that you would repent and let Jesus come in your life". Those who enforce our laws must also abide by them - and this Department of Justice will hold accountable anyone who violates the civil rights of our fellow Americans.

A federal judge has ruled that a former SC officer committed second-degree murder when he shot an unarmed black motorist to death.

"This is a tragedy that shouldn't have happened", US District Judge David Norton said.

The ruling comes as part of federal sentencing proceedings for Michael Slager. The former police officer has been in jail since his plea in May. "I said you know how the North Charleston police does, seemed like they just picked at you for any reason".

Slager, looking haggard in a gray-and-white prison jumpsuit with his wrists shackled to his waist, gave his own testimony. The video also shows Slager dropping an object next to Scott's body after the shooting, which prosecutors argued was proof that Slager planted evidence on Scott. Dashcam video shows that after a short conversation, Scott ran away from the vehicle and that after a foot chase, Slager fired eight shots, killing Scott.

The punishment wrapped up a case that became a rallying cry for the Black Lives Matter movement. What's known as victim impact testimony is meant to help the judge weigh the personal implications a crime has had.