CHARLESTON, S.C. (AP) - A white former SC police officer committed second-degree murder when he shot an unarmed black motorist to death and should expect to spend about two decades in prison, a judge said Thursday as he prepared to sentence the ex-officer for a federal civil rights violation.
A USA police officer who fatally shot an unarmed black man five times during a 2015 traffic stop has been sentenced to 20 years in jail. But video footage later showed Scott posed no threat given the 50-year-old was seen running in the opposite direction of the ex-cop.
The death of Walter Scott in April 2015 was one of the most shocking in a series of high-profile United States police shootings, often involving minorities, that have deepened tensions and added to distrust between officers and the communities they serve.
In arguing for a lighter sentence, Slager's attorneys told the judge that the former North Charleston officer and Scott fought on the ground and Scott reached for his stun gun during the struggle.
Slager's family had a chance to talk too, and his mother said her son didn't shoot Scott in anger or prejudice.
Newsweek reports prior to Thursday, the 2009 convictions of three cops marked the most recent instance in which the justice system held cops accountable for killing an unarmed Black person.
Scott, who was wanted for unpaid child support, was filmed by a police dashcam breaking free from Slager's grasp and running directly away from him.
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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.
"With my actions that day, Walter Scott is no longer with his family, and I am responsible for that", Slager said.
Through tears, the mother spoke as part of a hearing during which a judge will decide how much time Slager spends in prison for the April 2015 killing following a traffic stop. It concluded one of the few cases in which a police officer has been prosecuted for an on-duty shooting.
Norton also said Slager obstructed justice when he made statements to state police after the shooting. "Michael, I forgive you, and Michael, I do pray for you now and for your family, because we've gone through a traumatic time", said Scott's brother Anthony.
This week, federal prosecutors and Slager's lawyers have called witnesses to testify about technical aspects of the case, including what happened to Slager's stun gun before the shooting. "I said you know how the North Charleston police does, seemed like they just picked at you for any reason". God gave forgiveness in my heart for Officer Slager. Slager then fired eight shots, with five of hitting Scott in the back from 17 feet away, killing him.
In April 2015, Time magazine put Scott and Slager on its cover under the headline "Black Lives Matter".
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