Ex-Cop Michael Slager Found Guilty of Murder in Walter Scott Shooting


Former South Carolina police officer Michael Slager was sentenced to 19-to-24 years in prison on Thursday in the shooting death of Walter Scott, who was struck in the back while running from a traffic stop.

U.S. District Judge David Norton will announce later today the amount of time Slager will serve, which is expected to be within that range. He was shot in the back five times as he ran away.

Slager had said there was a struggle between the two men and Scott tried to take his stun gun, but Norton said a bystander's video of the incident showed otherwise.

Slager's first trial on the murder charge, held a year ago, ended in a mistrial, when jurors were unable to reach a unanimous verdict.

In the dashcam video, Slager is asking Scott questions about insurance and vehicle ownership.

The ruling at a federal hearing addressed the underlying offense against Michael Slager, 36, for violating Scott's civil rights during a 2015 shooting.

This week's sentencing hearings are a chance for Judge Norton to decide the basis for Slager's punishment: second-degree murder, as the federal prosecution is arguing, or manslaughter, as posited by the defense. "I forgive you. Forgiveness is in my heart". Prior to this, Slager had pleaded guilty to federal civil rights charges as a part of a deal where SC prosecutors dropped a pending murder charge against him.

The cellphone video of the shooting went viral, renewing concerns in the United States about police use of deadly force against unarmed black men.

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In court on Thursday, members of Scott's family offered forgiveness to Slager but said their pain had not diminished. Federal sentencing officials have recommended between 10 to almost 13 years in prison.

Walter Scott's son, Miles Scott, encouraged Norton to put Slager behind bars for life.

If Slager had faced another state trial and been convicted of murder, he could have been sentenced to anywhere from 30 years to life in prison.

Scott family lawyer Justin Bamberg said: 'I think everybody's just ready to close this chapter of life and start the next chapter.

A judge is deciding whether Scott's shooting was murder or manslaughter.

Scott's older brother, Anthony, told the court he'd become depressed after the shooting and that he was probably the last in his family to be able to forgive Slager.

The 2015 killing of Scott kickstarted efforts to reform local police practices.