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.
The white North Charleston, South Carolina police officer who shot and killed an unarmed African-American Coast Guard vet in April 2015 was sentenced to 20 years in prison on December 7, the New York Times reports.Officer Michael Slager, 36, shot and killed Walter Scott when the latter exited his auto and fled on foot during a daytime traffic stop.
His lawyers argued for a lighter sentence, claiming the former police officer fought on the ground with Mr Scott, with the latter reportedly trying to reach for Slager's stun gun.
What it did capture, though, is Slager repeatedly firing at Mr Scott as he was attempting to run away. Slager was consequentially let go from the North Charleston Police Department for the 2015 killing.
"I forgive you", the victim's mother told 36-year-old Slager in court, as she spoke about how she had been affected by her son's death.
Slager's family had a chance to talk too, and his mother said her son didn't shoot Scott in anger or prejudice. The judge "ruled that Slager committed second-degree murder and obstruction of justice", according to ABC News. "I pray for you".
This federal case is separate from his charges in SC state court.
Through tears, Scott's family told Slager they felt sorrow for him and the loss his young children would feel in his absence. In exchange for the plea, the local prosecutor agreed to drop the murder charge against him.
"This is a tragedy that shouldn't have happened", U.S. District Judge David Norton said.
"I think it must be something else to why they would not release that", Anthony Scott said while walking back to his hotel after the sentencing. In those two cases, the police officers involved in the incidents were cleared of wrongdoing despite raw video evidence that suggests otherwise, stoking frustration over police accountability and unconscious racial bias in the legal system.
"If you met him, you would like him", she said.
Slaged pleaded guilty to a federal civil rights offense.
Norton also said Slager obstructed justice when he made statements to state police after the shooting.
Slager, looking haggard in a gray-and-white prison jumpsuit with his wrists shackled to his waist, gave his own testimony. Slager, who is white, fired five times into Scott's back as he ran away.
Scott, who was 50 at the time of his death, served two years with the U.S. Coast Guard Yard at Curtis Bay south of Baltimore, Maryland.