A former South Carolina cop pled guilty to second-degree murder for shooting an unarmed man in the back. The judge ruled Thursday that Michael Slager, a former North Charleston police officer, also obstructed justice with his statements to state police following the shooting.
ABC News reported that Slager, who is white, shot Walter Scott, who is black in April 2015 following a traffic stop. Scott was unarmed. Slager has been in jail since May when he pleaded guilty to violating Scott’s civil rights, The Associated Press reported. He had faced murder charges in state court, but those charges were dropped as part of a federal plea deal.
Slager argued that he shot Scott in self-defense, yet the video is pretty clear that he was in no danger, as Scott was running away. The video below contains graphic language and is violent in nature. It shows a police officer shooting a man in the back and may not be suitable for all viewers.
Slager fired eight shots at Scott as he ran away — striking him five times, including three in the back, a coroner later said. Even after he was shot, Slager handcuffed Scott’s arms behind his back. Slager had claimed that Scott took control of his Taser and that he feared for his life in a scuffle after the traffic stop. The video didn’t show Scott taking the stun gun.
Slager was sentenced to 20 years in prison after pleading guilty. U.S. District Judge David Norton, in issuing the sentence, said Slager had shot Scott with “malice and recklessness,” and then gave false testimony to investigators. Norton ruled that Slager, 36, was guilty of second-degree murder and obstruction of justice, and also sentenced Slager to two years of supervision after his release.
Federal prosecutors had sought life in prison for Slager, who agreed to plead guilty in May to a federal charge of violating Scott’s civil rights. That was in exchange for state prosecutors dropping their case against Slager after a month-long murder trial ended in a hung jury a year ago. In that trial, Slager had faced 30 years to life in prison if convicted.
Scott’s mother, Judy, was one of seven family members who spoke before the sentencing. She recalled her 50-year-old son growing up as a “happy, jolly child,” then turned to Slager directly, telling him, “I forgive you.”
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