Published: Thu, December 07, 2017
Worldwide | By Isabel Fisher

White ex-cop gets 20 years in prison for fatal shooting

White ex-cop gets 20 years in prison for fatal shooting

A federal judge in SC on Thursday sentenced a white former North Charleston police officer to 20 years in prison in the shooting death of an unarmed black motorist. Prosecutors had argued that Slager committed second-degree murder, while the defense claimed his offense was, at most, voluntary manslaughter.

Scott's family members addressed the court after Norton's ruling.

"No matter what sentence I give, neither the Scott family or the Slager family is going to like it or think it is right", Norton told the court. She then looked directly at him. She asked Slager to accept Jesus and said she forgives him for the shooting. But mainly the family just talked about Walter.

"The killing of Walter Scott was not justified", Fishman said.

A state murder trial ended last December with a hung jury, and state prosecutors dropped the murder case in exchange for the plea on the federal charge.

Defending Slager, lawyer Andy Savage said: 'There's nothing in Michael Slager's background, from birth to today, of any racial animus or any harassment of minority members of the community'.

In April 2015, Slager had pulled over Walter Scott because of a broken brake light on his Mercedes-Benz. Witness video that surfaced shortly after the encounter appeared to show the moment Slager fatally shot Scott as he ran away.

The defense is arguing that Scott grabbed Slager's stun gun and had an altercation with him on the ground, which can not be clearly seen in the bystander's video.

At this week's hearing, attorneys for Slager and the state called expert witnesses to the stand to bolster rival interpretations of the video and audio, which included some dash-cam footage from Slager's vehicle. He said he shot the 50-year-old Black motorist in self-defense after Scott tried to grab his Taser. Prosecutors have supported the murder finding, which would expose Slager to up to life in prison.

Before handing down a formal sentence, the judge heard impact statements from Scott's family.

The former cop and his attorneys had long argued that the cell phone video didn't show the full story, and that the officers truly feared for his life. In 2016, the city of North Charleston agreed to undergo a voluntary review of its department's polices and practices by the Department of Justice.

The federal crime for which Slager was sentenced is "deprivation of rights under color of law", which means basically that an officer has abused his authority and violated someone's rights.

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