SC officer sentenced; judge says shooting unarmed motorist was murder

Sketch of testimony at Monday's Michael Slager sentencing hearing

Sketch of testimony at Monday's Michael Slager sentencing hearing

A white former SC police officer has been sentenced to 20 years in prison for shooting an unarmed black motorist to death in 2015.

Judge Norton, according to Burr, said that no matter what sentence he hands down, the Scott family and Slager family won't like it. The two scuffled and Slager opened fire as Scott was running away, hitting him five times in the back.

Retired North Charleston officer Wade Humphries, a former indirect supervisor of Michael Slager, called Slager his "go-to" man in the department and said that Slager was following his training when shooting at the suspect "until the threat cease [d]". Slager's attorneys - who contend that Scott wrestled a stun gun away from Slager, right before the witness with the cell phone began taping the incident - have argued for far greater leniency.

Initially, Circuit Judge Clifton Newman had declared a mistrial in Slager's shooting of Scott, with the jury of 12 people unable to come to a unanimous decision on the case.

Slager was set to stand for retrials, on both the state and federal levels, when he pleaded guilty to the federal offense of violating Scott's civil rights in May of this year.

In the dashcam video, Slager is asking Scott questions about insurance and vehicle ownership.

Scott's family members addressed the court after Norton's ruling. Norton found that it was murder. "I forgive you", she said.

Judy Scott on turned toward Slager on Thursday and said her faith in God gives her the ability to forgive him for killing her son.

Disturbing cellphone video was shared widely on social media after the fatal shooting, and the graphic footage again was on display during the sentencing hearing in Charleston.

Scott family lawyer Justin Bamberg said: 'I think everybody's just ready to close this chapter of life and start the next chapter.

A pre-sentencing report for Slager found that he committed manslaughter and recommended 10 to almost 13 years in prison.

Slager's family had a chance to talk too, and his mother said her son didn't shoot Scott in anger or prejudice.

Attorneys for Michael Slager reiterated their argument that the officer was afraid, not malicious, when he shot Walter Scott five times in the back following an April 2015 traffic stop.

While that case was ongoing, federal authorities pursued a parallel investigation against Slager on civil rights charges. The former police officer has been in jail since his plea in May.

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