The Latest: Judge: Ex-South Carolina cop committed murder
CHARLESTON, S.C. (AP) – The Latest on the federal sentencing of a former South Carolina police officer in the death of an unarmed motorist (all times local):
A white former South Carolina police officer has been sentenced to 20 years in prison for shooting an unarmed black motorist to death in 2015.
A federal judge handed down the sentence for Michael Slager on Thursday. Slager pleaded guilty to violating Walter Scott’s civil rights by unjustly shooting him in the back five times as he was running away from a traffic stop.
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.
A bystander’s cellphone video didn’t capture the struggle but did show Slager firing into Scott as he was running away.
A defense attorney says a white former South Carolina law officer should be sentenced on the low end of guidelines being considered by a federal judge.
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.
U.S. District Judge David Norton said earlier that the shooting was second-degree murder and he would use a sentencing guideline range of about 19 to 24 years when he decides Slager’s fate.
Slager pleaded guilty in May to violating Walter Scott’s civil rights when he shot the unarmed, fleeing motorist five times in the back following a traffic stop.
During tearful statements in court, several members of Scott’s family said they forgave the officer and were praying for him.
The mother of a slain black motorist says she forgives the white former South Carolina police officer who killed her son.
Judy Scott on Thursday turned toward Michael Slager and said her faith in God gives her the ability to forgive him for killing her son, Walter Scott.
She also told Slager she hoped he would repent for the killing and allow Jesus to come into his heart.
Through tears, the mother spoke as part of a hearing during which a judge will decide how much time Slager spends in prison for the April 2015 killing following a traffic stop. Earlier Thursday, U.S. District Judge David Norton ruled that the killing was second-degree murder and said he’d work from guidelines that recommend Slager spends 19 to 24 years in prison.
Slager pleaded guilty in May to violating Scott’s civil rights.
A federal judge has ruled that a former South Carolina officer committed second-degree murder when he shot an unarmed black motorist to death.
U.S. District Judge David Norton on Thursday made that determination in the April 2015 shooting of Walter Scott.
The ruling comes as part of federal sentencing proceedings for Michael Slager. The former North Charleston officer has been in jail since pleading guilty in May to violating Scott’s civil rights, and Norton is tasked with deciding how much time he spends in prison.
Norton also said Slager obstructed justice when he made statements to state police after the shooting.
This week, federal prosecutors and Slager’s lawyers have called witnesses to testify about technical aspects of the case, including what happened to Slager’s stun gun before the shooting. The officer has said he shot Scott in self-defense after fearing for his own life when the man grabbed the weapon and turned it toward him.
For three days, attorneys representing the federal government and a former South Carolina 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.
That includes use of Slager’s stun gun, which the former officer says Walter Scott grabbed and turned on him, causing Slager to fear for his life and shoot in self-defense. Slager, who is white, fired five times into Scott’s back as he ran away.
On Thursday, attorneys are expected to call friends and relatives of both men who’ll tell the judge how Scott’s death and the officer’s arrest have affected their lives. What’s known as victim impact testimony is intended to help the judge weigh the personal implications a crime has had.