Officer who killed Walter Scott gets 20-year sentence
08 December, 2017, 09:04 | Author: Wade Massey
The conviction of a former SC cop has finally disrupted the devastating pattern of the unrebuked killings of Black men by police.
The white ex-South Carolina cop who shot an unarmed black man in the back as a passerby videotaped the stunning death received a 20-year federal prison term Thursday. Slager's defense lawyers, and the US Probation Office, had recommended that the federal judge in the case, David C. Norton, treat the shooting as akin to voluntary manslaughter instead.
The shooting angered local African-Americans who complained for years that North Charleston police harassed blacks, pulling them over or questioning them unnecessarily as they cracked down on crime.
Former South Carolina police officer Michael Slager, 36, pleaded guilty to violating Mr Scott's civil rights by unjustly shooting him in the back five times as he was trying to run away.
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.
Newsweekreports prior to Thursday, the 2009 convictions of three cops marked the most recent instance in which the justice system held cops accountable for killing an unarmed Black person. Norton said further that Slager intentionally gave false testimony to authorities.
Feiden Santana holding the the cell phone he shot video with showing former North Charleston Police Officer Michael Slager's fatal encounter with Walter Scott (Image: AP) Walter Scott, 50, was shot by a police officer.
Slager was then criticized for trying to stage a scene to back up his claim of self-defense, by placing his stun gun beside Scott. "I forgive you, and Michael, I pray for you now".
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Through tears, Scott's family told Slager they felt sorrow for him and the loss his young children would feel in his absence. As part of a plea agreement reached in May, prosecutors dropped state murder charges.
"This is a tragedy that shouldn't have happened", said Norton, who could have thrown the disgraced law enforcer behind bars for 24 years.
A bystander recorded the shooting on a cellphone, and it was shared around the world, setting off protests across the U.S.as demonstrators said it was another egregious example of police officers mistreating African-Americans.
Norton also said Slager obstructed justice when he made statements to state police after the shooting.
"We will never be the same again", said Anthony Scott, the motorist's older brother.
"If you met him, you would like him", she said. The video showed Scott running away from Slager and the officer firing eight times.
The punishment wrapped up a case that became a rallying cry for the Black Lives Matter movement.
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