Ex-officer Slager gets 20 years for Walter Scott shooting

By Allen Cone  |  Dec. 7, 2017 at 2:00 PM
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Dec. 7 (UPI) -- A former South Carolina police officer was sentenced Thursday to 20 years in federal prison after a judge found him guilty of second-degree murder in the death of a motorist two years ago.

In Charleston, U.S. District Judge David Norton announced his sentence hours after ruling Michael Slager committed murder and obstructed justice against the motorist, Walter Scott.

The judge had said he would sentence Slager to a minimum of 235 months, or nearly 20 years, in prison and up to 24 years in following guidelines.

Norton could have found him guilty of voluntary manslaughter, and Slager could have faced life in prison.

"No matter what sentence I give, neither the Scott family nor the Slager family will think it is right," Norton said earlier Thursday.

The judge said the crime was grave and Scott did not warrant being shot. He added that Slager obstructed justice with inaccurate statements to law enforcement after the shooting.

Slager, 36, who is white, earlier pleaded guilty to a federal civil rights offense against the African-American Scott.

"I forgive Michael Slager," mother Judy Scott said. "Forgiveness is in my heart. I pray for you, that you would repent and let Jesus come in your life."

Slager stopped Scott's car for a broken brake light in North Charleston in April 2015. Scott, 50, jumped out of the car and Slager chased him for about 200 yards before the men scuffled and Scott was shot.

Wtness video surfaced that showed Slager shooting Scott eight times as he ran away. The footage spurred nationwide outrage.

Slager pleaded not guilty in the case, and his attorney said at trial last year that his client shot Scott because he feared for his life.

The state trial ended in a mistrial. Before a state retrial and a federal trial, Slager pleaded guilty in May to violating Scott's civil rights in federal court.

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