Ex-cop gets 20 years in prison for South Carolina shooting

Michael Slager

The conviction of a former SC cop has finally disrupted the devastating pattern of the unrebuked killings of Black men by police. Slager unsuccessfully tried to stop Scott with his taser, which turned into a scuffle, and as he tried to flee again, Slager shot Scott eight times in the back.

Former police officer, Michael Slager, shot Walter Scott five times during a 2015 traffic stop.

"With my actions that day, Walter Scott is no longer with his family, and I am responsible for that", Slager said.

A white former SC officer was sentenced to 20 years in prison on Thursday for fatally shooting an unarmed black motorist in the back in 2015, wrapping up a case that became a rallying cry for the Black Lives Matter movement.

"No matter what sentence I give, neither the Scott family nor the Slager family is going to think that it's right", the judge said. 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 executive director of the SC chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union, Shaundra Scott, said her organisation and others were working with police in the wake of the Scott case to ensure officer accountability.

Andy Savage said Thursday he felt it would be appropriate for Michael Slager to receive about 19 years in prison for shooting a black motorist to death in 2015.

Before Slager's sentence was handed down, the judge had to decide whether the shooting amounted to second-degree murder or manslaughter.

The sentencing was preceded by emotional testimony from members of both the Scott and the Slager family.

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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.

She said she forgave Michael Slager.

On Thursday morning, Norton agreed with federal prosecutors in announcing that Slager had indeed committed second-degree murder in shooting Scott and obstructed justice when lying to SLED officers in the days following the killing (Slager left out details from his meeting with SLED that were later brought up as defenses in the state federal trial).

Slager pleaded guilty in May to violating Scott's civil rights. As part of Slager's federal plea deal, the state of SC dropped its pending murder charge.

"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.

After the shooting, Slager picked up his stun gun and placed it next to Scott. "Forgiveness is in my heart there and I pray for you that you would repent and let Jesus come into your life".

For three days, attorneys representing the federal government and a former SC officer charged in an unarmed black motorist's shooting death have presented technical testimony to a judge considering how much time Michael Slager should spend in federal prison. Slager shot Scott in the back five times as he ran away.

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

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