Michael Slager, the white former police officer who was filmed killing an unarmed black man in North Charleston, S.C., has been sentenced to 20 years in prison. In sentencing Slager, who pleaded guilty earlier this year to a federal civil rights violation, the judge ruled Thursday that he committed second-degree murder and obstruction of justice.
Slager, 36, “acted out of malice and and forethought, shooting dead an unarmed and fleeing Walter Scott,” U.S. District Judge David Norton told the court Thursday after several days of testimony, according to the Charleston Post and Courier. “Slager’s actions were disproportional to Scott’s misconduct.”
In a wrought courtroom scene, Scott’s mother, Judy, told Slager that she forgives him for her son’s killing. As South Carolina Public Radio’s Victoria Hansen reports, Slager turned to her and silently mouthed “I’m sorry.”
“I know,” Scott replied.
The shooting of Scott added to the still-growing conversation of how people of color are treated by police officers across the nation. Scott’s death was especially jarring for most as a video showed he was not attacking Slager and was shot in the back as he tried to evade arrest.
Slager’s state murder trial ended in a hung jury in December 2016 with a retrial set to happen in early 2017. However, as noted in the Charleston Post and Courier outlet, Slager took a plea deal and pleaded guilty to a federal charge of violating Scott’s rights by way of his use of excessive force thus removing the murder trial.
Photo: Charleston County Sheriff’s Office