Steve Osunsami and Emily Shapiro, ABC News, Dcember 7, 2017
Former South Carolina police officer Michael Slager was sentenced today to 20 years in prison for the deadly shooting of unarmed black man Walter Scott.
U.S. District Judge David Norton ruled that Slager committed second-degree murder and obstruction of justice, when he shot and killed 50-year-old Scott in 2015. The second-degree murder ruling came with a recommended 19 to 24 year sentence.
Slager’s father, mother, sister and wife also spoke to the judge, begging for a lighter sentence. They talked about how Slager led a life of service and how upset they were after the shooting. Michael Slager’s wife, Jamie Slager, told the judge, “He had to make a decision in a split second. I couldn’t imagine having to make a decision that fast.”
The judge’s decision comes after Michael Slager, who is white, pleaded guilty to a federal civil rights offense.
Michael Slager shot and killed Walter Scott on April 4, 2015, while Slager was an officer with the North Charleston Police Department. Michael Slager claimed self-defense, but witness cellphone video that surfaced shortly after the encounter showed the officer fatally shooting Walter Scott in the back as he ran away. He was fired from the force after the shooting.
Before hearing his sentence in federal court, Michael Slager called each family member out by name and apologized, thanking them for forgiving him. “I wish this never would have happened,” he said. “I wish I could go back to the day and change the events, but I can’t.”
Another one of Walter Scott’s brothers, Anthony Scott, thanked Feiden Santana, the witness who filmed the shooting, for being “brave” enough to film what he saw.