Summary: The former South Carolina police officer who shot an unarmed man was sentenced to 20 years behind bars.
Michael Slager, a former South Carolina police officer, shot and killed Walter Scott two years ago. Slager was sentenced by U.S. District Judge David Norton to twenty years in prison for second-degree murder and obstruction of justice. The second-degree murder charge came with a recommended sentence of 19 to 24 years.
During the sentencing hearing, Scott’s mother looked Slager in the eye, telling him that she forgave him. Scott’s brother, Rodney, told the court that he wanted Slager to pay his actions and that the day his brother died was the worst day of his life. Families on both sides were emotional.
Slager’s family also had the opportunity to speak to the judge, asking for a reduced sentence. His wife, Jamie, said, “He had to make a decision in a split second. I couldn’t imagine having to make a decision that fast.” His family discussed his life of service as a reason for a lighter sentence.
Scott was 50 at the time of his death on April 4, 2015. He fled the scene when Slager, a police officer with the North Charleston Police Department at the time, tried to stop him. Slager ended up shooting the unarmed Scott in the back as he ran away.
Slager had claimed it was self-defense, but cell phone video from a witness showed otherwise. The video clearly shows Scott running away while Slager pulls his gun and shots him. The men were several feet away from each other. He was fired from the police department soon after the footage surfaced.
He was charged with murder in South Carolina, where he pleaded not guilty. The first case, a state murder trial, ended in a mistrial in 2016. A state retrial and federal trial were scheduled for this year sometime but Slager ended up pleading guilty in May to violating Scott’s civil rights for the federal case. His plea ended the federal case against him and also ended the state charges against him during the mistrial.
Before the sentencing, Slager apologized to each member of his family, thanking them for forgiving him. He said, “I wish this never would have happened. I wish I could go back to the day and change the events, but I can’t.”
Rodney said, “We got justice.” He continued by stating their family is “thankful for the justice system that worked on our behalf” but there are still a lot of improvements that need to be done in the justice system.
Another of Scott’s brothers, Anthony, thanked the witness Feiden Santana for being “brave” enough to record what happened that day.
Do you think the sentence was fair for the crime? Would have liked to see more time or less time added to his sentence? Share your thoughts with us in the comments.
To learn more about other police shootings, read these articles:
- Fatal Shooting of University of the Incarnate Word Student by School Police Officer
- Milwaukee Cop Found Not Guilty of Shooting Syville Smith
- Oklahoma Police Kill Deaf Man Despite Being Told “He Can’t Hear”