Walter Scott's family finally sees justice

DEC. 5 2016 FILE

The former North Charleston cop could have received life in prison.

Fishman for the prosecution said Slager did not mention a violent fight with Scott when he initially reported what happened.

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.

While that case was ongoing, federal authorities pursued a parallel investigation against Slager on civil rights charges. The two scuffled and Slager opened fire as Scott was running away, hitting him five times in the back. Federal sentencing officials have recommended between 10 to almost 13 years in prison.

A former SC police officer was sentenced Thursday to 20 years in federal prison after a judge found him guilty of second-degree murder in the death of a motorist two years ago.

"He will never see me play high school football, never see me graduate", Scott's son Miles said in court on Wednesday.

A white former police officer says he is grateful for the forgiveness from the family of a black man that he shot to death.

For three days, attorneys representing the federal government and a former SC officer charged in an unarmed black motorist's shooting death have presented technical testimony to a judge considering how much time Michael Slager should spend in federal prison. That video quickly went viral, drawing national attention to the case. Slager could have faced a life sentence, but prosecutors also said as part of the plea deal that they would recommend that his sentence be reduced due to his "acceptance of responsibility".

The judge said he will announce his decision later Thursday but will sentence the former officer to a minimum of 235 months, or almost 20 years, in prison. His murder trial ended with a deadlocked jury previous year, and prosecutors had vowed to retry Slager in state court. Slager, who is white, fired five times into Scott's back as he ran away. The guilty plea was part of an agreement last May, in which federal prosecutors dropped state murder charges but kept the federal civil rights charges.

Slager was charged in SC with murder and pleaded not guilty. Slager contends he was securing the weapon.

Michael Slager, 36, pleaded guilty in May to using excessive force when he killed 50-year-old Walter Scott after a traffic stop in North Charleston.

A pre-sentencing report for Slager found that he committed manslaughter and recommended 10 to almost 13 years in prison. The former North Charleston officer has been in jail since pleading guilty in May to violating Scott's civil rights, and Norton is tasked with deciding how much time he spends in prison. He said that Slager and Scott had physically struggled before the shooting, and that explained the officer's state of mind.

Officers are rarely charged for deadly on-duty shootings, though that number has increased in recent years amid intense scrutiny and protests that have broken out across the country. But only Slager and former state trooper Sean Groubert, who shot a man as he tried to get his wallet during a seat belt violation check, will have been sent to prison.

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